Can we all agree that the hype machine alone guaranteed Avatar a number one opening at the box office? I don't see narrowed eyes or shaking heads, so I don't think there are any dissenters out there and if there are...HA!
Avatar opened to $73 million from 7000 screens over the weekend. It's a very strong number, probably not something to write home about, but certainly something to drop an e-mail or make a quick call over (I Am Legend opened bigger for Eywa's sake!). However, if this was the only news, I wouldn't be wasting your time. The real news here is that $52 million of that gross came from 3D screenings, shattering the records held by Up and Monsters VS Aliens for 3D opening grosses (at $35.4 and $32.6 respectively). Apparently, IMAX opening records were also completely blown away, but at the time of this writing, the actual numbers have yet to be released. Oh, and there's the matter of the international gross of $159 million, the biggest ever for a non-sequel.
So, Dr. Hall, what does this mean?
Well, my PhD didn't come from box office analysis (it came from being awesome), but I think we can presume that the re-emergence of 3D has truly and officially dug itself into the moviegoing culture and it doesn't intend to go anywhere anytime soon (and as long as tickets cost a extra three bucks, the studios will be happy to help them dig a nice little trench to live in). It means that the success of The Dark Knight (and other blockbusters, but let's face it...The Dark Knight) on IMAX was not a fluke. And finally, like Titanic before it, Avatar looks to have huge international appeal, which it will need if it wants to cross the coveted one billion dollar mark (and it may have to in order to break even).
Unlike my Sci-Fi Squad compatriots John Gholson and Peter Hall (No relation, I swear!), I had to wait until opening weekend to see the film because I didn't get into any fancy pants screenings (Read their reviews here and here). I liked it. A lot. I didn't love it and I think District 9 and Moon are much better science fiction films, but it's an absolute blast. Hell, I'll even give the admittedly silly story a pass because it doesn't have the disgusting crassness of most modern Hollywood blockbusters like Transformers. It feels honest and from the heart. Although I think James Cameron's heart resides in an alternate dimension where he's never seen any other movies. Ever.
This is my round-about way of saying that Avatar had a big opening and people and most critics really seem to like or love it. Most of the "norms" (i.e., people who didn't know Avatar existed until a month or two ago) seem to be head over heels in love with it and I've already talked to several people who plan to go back and see it again. Can this do Titanic business? Does Cameron truly have his finger on the pulse of our culture?
Or will the most expensive, most advanced film of all time get trampled next week by a century-old literary icon? As much as I would appreciate the irony, I want to see James Cameron make another movie. So: Go, Avatar, Go!
(Via Box Office Mojo)