Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Ten Most Impressive Box Office Runs of 2000s (No. 4)

Avatar (2009)

  - The biggest film of all time with a $750m+ total, shattering Titanic's old record by 25%
  - The biggest 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th weekend ever
  - 7 straight weeks at No. 1, the best such stretch since Titanic's 15 consecutive weeks
  - 11 straight weekends of $13m+ gross
  - 9.75 multiplier

This will likely be the most controversial pick of the entire list, not for its inclusion, but rather for its positioning.  How could it not be ranked No. 1, let alone outside the top 3?  One may legitimately ask.  First let's go over why it has a very good argument for the top spot.  It is, essentially, the Titanic of the decade and will be the most remembered film of the period.  Many of its achievements, such as the number of weeks at No. 1, had not been seen since Titanic, and in some cases, it broke the record that Titanic had held since its release (e.g. the biggest 4th-7th weekend).  Its week-to-week holds also mirrored Titanic quite well, and its 9.75 multiplier is the best ever for films with $30m+ opening.

So why didn't I place it No. 1?  The biggest reason: the 3D/IMAX factor.  The most obvious impact of 3D is the higher ticket price.  If we go by admissions, Avatar would trail Titanic by a good amount and be much closer to Shrek 2 instead considering the discrepancy in average price between the two is even more significant due to Shrek's family audience.  3D also provides another layer of shields against the general competition, as 2D movies may compete for its demographics, but they can't take away its 3D screens, the main source of its earning.  That allows the film to hold better, and Avatar had a major advantage in release schedule, where there was not another 3D release in sight until Alice in Wonderland 11 weeks later, not to mention December releases are known for having great stamina with holiday season help.  So once the excellent reviews started to pour in, one could begin sensing another Titanic type of run might be on the table.  In fact, two people whom I hold high regard toward, Mark from WorldofKJ and Martin from BOM, were able to predict a $75m opening and a $600m+ total.  In other words, the run is not as inconceivable as it appears, even though $750m is still pretty darn hard to envision any way we slice it.  I simply feel that the three films left had runs that are a bit more inexplicable and stunning, even though none of them came within 50% of what Avatar will make in the end.

NOTE: If we are grading on the worldwide performance, Avatar will surely claim the top spot for having the most impressive box office run of not only just last decade, but ever.  As magnificent as it has done in the U.S., how it performed among the rest of the world is even more outrageous, including some out-of-this-world figures in a number of countries.


  1. really the blind side over avatar?

  2. Was initially surprised by the 4th placing, but you give solid reasoning as to why. 3D screens, Christmas/New Year stamina and overall lack of competition are important factors. Still, for me, the holds on Avatar's first three weeks are just so stunningly memorable despite these favorable factors.

    Also interesting that those two guys predicted Avatar's OW/Gross so well.