Avatar Opening Weekend Box Office Results

Posted December 21st, 2009 at 12:06 pm

The final numbers are in for opening weekend of Avatar. The James Cameron film was able to pull in $77 million domestically and totaled $242 million worldwide. That is a good result but one that fell about in the middle of what was a wide range of industry predictions. Despite that the long-term outlook may be better than originally anticipated based on word-of-mouth that is proving incredibly strong.

The worldwide take provided Avatar the title of the biggest opening weekend of all time for a non-sequel. To that end it still hasn’t even opened in Japan and China yet. The “event” movies always draw well in foreign countries. Most recently 2012, which has made nearly $160 million domestically has grossed over $550 million overseas. Avatar, with the aid of higher priced 3D screens and better viewer response, should be able to easily exceed that and has the potential to blow by it.

The major winter storms over the last few days prevented Avatar from opening higher. A large portion of the Northeast was buried under heavy snowfall. Those people interested in Avatar will likely find their way to see it in the coming weeks. Unlike most movies that make a third or higher of their overall gross in the opening weekend Avatar is expected to have a much higher multiplier. The opening weekend will actually be less telling about its future than how it fares in the next few days and next weekend.

The buffer of a good portion of the country getting their first chance to see it could help significantly in preventing a drop-off. Fox has already floated the possibility out there that next weekend could come close to matching the $77 million it made this past weekend. This is telling as Fox tried to keep expectations low pre-release and now are clearly excited by its long-term potential.

In my initial analysis of the opening day for Avatar the word-of-mouth was primarily based on strong response on Twitter (which has become the #1 indicator in the last year), reviews, and general response around the web. There is much more evidence now though that supports this.

In an article today from the LA Times that questions whether Avatar could hit the $1 billion mark the CinemaScore rating is cited due to the A rating it has received. It got an A from every single demographic polled which is another critical ingredient to consider. The last “blockbuster” movie to have an A rating was The Dark Knight. Avatar is currently 21st on the highest rated movies of all-time on IMDB and has an A rating from users on Yahoo Movies.

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