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Will (You Care If) Avatar Surpass(es) Titanic As Highest Grossing Film of All Time?

By Miscellaneous | Miscellaneous | January 4, 2010 |

By Miscellaneous | Miscellaneous | January 4, 2010 |

The holidays are over, but the news continues to be slow out of Hollywood this week. My guess is the studios are all scrambling to figure out which of their films to Avatize, or Avatarize, or simply shoot in 3D. Right now, execs are stiffly walking onto sets a la Millard Mitchell in Singin’ in the Rain and shutting down production because of the latest game-changing picture. Makes me wonder if there are any actresses who’ll lose their careers because they just don’t look as beautiful in three dimensions.

With so little to talk about, everyone continues to concentrate on the box office success of James Cameron’s little blockbuster that could. Amazingly Avatar, despite not being based on a popular comic book or amusement park ride or historical tragedy (unless you count the white man’s takeover of America, Africa and Iraq), has cracked the $1 billion mark worldwide and crushed the hearts of international Batman fans by besting The Dark Knight as the fourth largest grosser of all time.

Of course, domestically, The Dark Knight remains #2, with Avatar way down at #15. And of course, the latter’s $50 million or so earned solely from 3D and IMAX surcharges can make the achievement seem unfair. Enough for people to be adding asterixes and happily pointing out that Avatar will never legitimately beat the #1 film of all time, Cameron’s Titanic.

But think about it this way: Avatar’s 3D-ness may currently give reason for lengthy clarifications, but it also should help the film in the long run. Geeks are seeing the movie over and over, possibly because once the thing is out of theaters, Avatar just won’t be the same on TV (not even on the new 3D TVs). In fact, Fox could easily keep it in theaters long after releasing it to home video, provided there are enough 3D and IMAX screens available to do so.

Not that it really matters if Avatar beats Titanic or breaks any other kinds of records. All this shows is that Cameron really knows how to make money. And maybe it means the next Batman, Harry Potter, Hobbit and Pirates of the Caribbean movies will be made in 3D to maintain the status of their franchises. But that’ll only help until Avatar 2, for which Cameron will invent new technology that allows us to plug our ponytails into our chairs and truly feel what it’s like to be tamed/raped by the Na’vi. I predict it’ll be called Symbi-O-Vision.

Here are some other reactions to Avatar’s latest numbers from around the blogosphere:

  • Scott Tobias at AV Club:
    There was never any middle ground for James Cameron’s sci-fi spectacular Avatar: it was either going to be a studio-busting flop of epic proportions or one of the biggest hits ever produced.
  • Jeremy Kay at The Guardian Film Blog:
    Will Avatar overtake Titanic to become the undisputed champion of the modern box office? At this rate it may well do so. Box-office observers believe that at this relatively early stage, Avatar is regarded as a spectacle that must be seen by everybody. And those who have seen it are going back a second or third time. This is what needs to happen for a movie to graduate from being a box-office hit to a juggernaut. Titanic did it. The Dark Knight did it. New Moon did it, albeit on a smaller scale. The movie must slow down at some point, but it only dropped off 10% in North America and a mere 4% in such countries as France and Germany, so it still has huge momentum.
  • Alex Billington at
    He’s done it again. The true cinematic “king of the world” has made another movie that has earned over $1 billion worldwide at the box office, only the fifth movie in history to ever do so. Early reports are indicating (via Variety) that James Cameron’s Avatar will pass $352.1 million domestically this weekend pushing it just over the $1 billion mark worldwide in only 17 days. I don’t think Titanic was even this successful, this fast, which makes me wonder. It only needs $800 million more worldwide to pass Titanic, could it happen? It took The Dark Knight 33 weeks (and a re-release) to pass the $1 billion mark in 2008. This is incredible!
  • Josh Wigler at MTV Movies Blog:
    For more than a decade now, “Titanic” has comfortably held the distinction of being the highest grossing feature film of all time, both domestic and worldwide. But in case you haven’t noticed, there’s a not-so-little iceberg called Pandora, filled with Na’vi and other dangerous indigenous creatures, heading straight for Cameron’s previously established “Titanic” — and judging by the box office numbers, it’s entirely possible that “Avatar” could sink the boat.
  • Adam Markovitz at PopWatch:
    Clearly, pricey 3D tickets are giving Avatar a (lanky blue) leg up. But if memory serves, Titanic had an advantage of its own: repeat views. I remember classmates arguing over who had seen the movie more times, resorting to impromptu quote-offs to prove their claims. Avatar has earned plenty of raves, but is it inspiring the same level of obsessive devotion?
  • Rob Beschizza at BoingBoing:
    Avatar ‘s made a billion dollars in 17 days. Haters may take some vanishingly small measure of solace in the fact that ticket price inflation means that despite the incredible financial haul, it may have been seen by only half as many people as Titanic.
  • Gabe Toro at The Playlist:
    Isn’t there something better to do with your time? “Avatar” is a good bit of fun, for sure, but does this film really merit these ridiculous grosses? At $350 million domestic, part of a billion dollar worldwide take (Jesus, man!), “Avatar” is unquestionably the people’s choice. But maybe you should read a book or something. Have sex with your significant other. But wear a condom, lest “Avatar” become a $2 billion movie.
  • Craig Kennedy at Living in Cinema:
    Worldwide, Avatar has raked in over $1 billion in a little over two weeks making it only a matter of time before it takes over The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s #2 all-time spot where it sits with 1.12 billion in 2003 dollars. Will it reach the $1.84 billion of Cameron’s own Titanic? It’s hard to imagine, but I’m officially out of the Cameron doubting business.
  • Mark at I Watch Stuff:
    Within the week, it’s expected to surpass Return of the King and Dead Man’s Chest in worldwide box office, placing the film in second place behind a fellow James Cameron film, Titanic. Just goes to show how effective playing sci-fi MadLibs with a Pocahontas book report can be.
  • Dan Hopper at Best Week Ever:
    Pretty impressive showing by James Cameron’s blue people, although even with inflation, they’re still nowhere near catching James Cameron’s fleshtone people.

    What’s the lesson here? Have James Cameron do things. The man knows his talkies.

  • Michelle Collins at Best Week Ever:
    That’s right: Avatar is a huge success, almost as huge as those unexplainable Stanford baby tees seen on Sigourney Weaver’s giant blue Avatar, which is clearly a mythical 7XL.

  • Vince Mancini at FilmDrunk:
    Sources say that upon hearing the news, [Cameron] barbecued a unicorn over a slow-burning pit of $100 dollar bills, and after his personal chef finished it with a fine truffle and komodo-dragon sauce, a high-priced call girl spit it into his mouth while she pleasured herself with a gold bar.

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