Avatar #1: Oops, Let’s Move the Goal Posts

No sooner had Avatar done the unthinkable — overtaking and surpassing Titanic as the #1 Box Office Hit of all time in terms of global box office gross — than the goal posts started getting moved, with most of the articles now starting to footnote the accomplishment with calculations of number of admissions rather than total box office gross as the new way of measuring the all time champ. Look — I’m not an Avatar cheerleader. Since the first day I predicted it would overtake Titanic, I’ve been basically crunching the numbers and the trends–not speaking from an emotional place — when attempting to analyze the accomplishment and put it in perspective. But now, here we are, on “Avatar Beats Titanic” day, and suddenly the unassailable Box Office Gross of Titanic has been assailed, and now suddenly that’s not relevant — what is relevant now, suddenly, is the number of tickets sold.

Okay, I get it. Sort of. It seems that a lot of people have a lot emotionally invested in Titanic’s unassailable achievement and so they must protect it. But my thought is — where were all the Gone With The Wind defenders when Titanic took the crown? Where were all the Titanicophiles and did they try to quantify Titanic’s achievement by indexing it against inflation at the time? I think not.

Anyway, it’s all in good fun because the cool thing is that Titanic and Avatar are like Payton Manning and Eli Manning–children of the same father. Let’s celebrate the Father’s accomplishment and stop squabbling about the sibling rivalry. All hail James Cameron, at least in economic terms — he’s the king of the box office universe.


~ by Michael Sellers on January 26, 2010.

3 Responses to “Avatar #1: Oops, Let’s Move the Goal Posts”

  1. I agree about the repeat viewings being a key difference with any other blockbuster. I’ve seen it twice myself, and I can’t even remember the last time I went to see the same film twice, it’s not normally something I do, as I prefer to watch other great films which are playing. Avatar has an addictive quality.

    I agree with James Cameron’s point that people get a lot more value for their money with Avatar. You pay roughly the same price for this film, which is 4 years in the making and contains brilliant imagery and presents a dazzling world, as you do for an average romantic comedy or any other film. You get a lot for the price of a single ticket, so to speak.

  2. Well I must say that I definetly predicted big things for Avatar. But well, it has gone over my predictions. I thought it would be like from 5-10 in the box office since many people said the story wasn’t THAT good. I think the buzz on the internet about it is what really made a lot of people watch it. If there was such a thing as Twitter or Facebook when Titanic came out I’d say it would have even higher earnings.

    Well, maybe that’s just me.

    • The thing is — internet buzz gets people to go see a film once, but both Avatar and Titanic have this repeat viewing thing going on that is pretty unique. It’s just that Titanic seemed to have the teen girl demographic going nuts, and Avatar has the geek/sci-fi/male demographic going nuts. The process is the same — it’s just that each film has its fiercely loyal, repeat viewing fan base. What you don’t find is too many people who are intensely passionate about both films. People really do seem to choose one side or the other. For me — a male who read and loved sci-fi and adventure as a teen — Avatar resonates better but I still love Titanic and have seen it probably 10 or 12 times, but only twice in theaters. I’ve seen Avatar 4 times in theaters and I think I’m done, although two or three months from now if it’s still out I might see it again in IMAX. The whole thing is pretty interesting, though.

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