Without looking at the data, maybe this Special Edition release seems a disappointment, as Steven Zeitchik spins it over at 24 Frames. He wonders if this "struggle" by Avatar could be a nail in the coffin for re-releases, still despite success with 3D retrofit editions of films like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Toy Story and Toy Story 2. Plus, as he notes, they're low-risk. And they shouldn't be looked at against a weekend's new titles. Avatar might not have done Star Wars Special Edition numbers, but it had a better re-release gross than The Dark Knight -- of course that one didn't get the extended cut treatment (and it didn't have the benefit of 3D surcharges).
I will say that I found this latest Avatar re-release to be bit premature. The appealing thing about the re-release is that it allows us to revisit or for the first time see a favorite movie on the big screen. For this to be exciting the title needs to be something we haven't seen in theaters in a while. Many times, even without new bells and whistles or a different cut of the film, this will at least be of interest to the die-hard cinephiles in major cities. But it hasn't been very long since we last saw Avatar in theaters, so paying upwards of $20 to see it again with a little sex scene or something isn't a big sell to a general crowd.
Another thing, though, at least a movie like Avatar will have a certain reason for moviegoers to see it again theatrically at some point (much further) down the line. Because of the 3D, which we can't get at home. Sure, there are 3D TVs and Blu-rays, even those not requiring glasses, trickling into the market, but it might be a number of years before most of us are watching movies in 3D in our homes. So if we want to see Avatar or Coraline or How to Train Your Dragon as they're meant to be seen, we'll possibly want to return to the theater for future 3D re-releases of these titles.
What would get you into an auditorium for a re-release run?