Let’s get sexy.


So Avatar opened to one of the biggest weekends of a Fall season (perhaps the biggest). Though it didn’t crack $100 (or maybe it does), it’s nothing to sneer at.

But how much did the film cost?

That’s the question isn’t it, my precious, isn’t it. If the film cost $500 Million dollars, then it needs to at least make a billion dollars worldwide to be successful. But then there’s also ancillaries. So, who’s to say,a nd maybe the film cost closer to $400.

But even a $100 Million dollar opening doesn’t guarantee more than $300 Million for the domestic run.

Generally that’s true, but this has the 3-D factor, which may mean people return more regularly because the home theater experience won’t be the same.

So what you’re saying is it’s fucked in the 2-D markets?

Probably. Depends if people fall in love with it, and not that many people have watched the 2-D version. But if you go to a location that offers both, and the 3-D is sold out, I think most people would rather wait.

How many locations offer 3-D?

I’ve read something around 2,000, but last solid count I heard was closer to 1,200. You can get into the strange equation of locations versus screens, as a larger multiplex only counts as one per, but may have multiple prints. Yes the math on this is wonky, but whatever.

So what are the commercial prospects here?

Depends if it really is a game changer. People are going to say “why isn’t this doing The Dark Knight numbers?” And some will judge the film a failure if it doesn’t do that (it won’t), and some will judge it a failure if it doesn’t do Titanic numbers (it won’t), and even if it does do those numbers, then people will talk about inflation.

So there are people who will deem it a failure regardless?

Yes, just as there are those who will deem it a success if it does King Kong numbers. When you are actively behind or against a film, you can make all manner of excuses.

But what about this weekend?

Really, this is an original text, as it were, so it may not be as front loaded as something that is so obviously what it is. Even Iron Man can claim to be part of a larger thing. So it does a huge number this weekend, the story will be told next weekend when Sherlock Holmes shows up to raise some havoc. It and Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 are aimed square at the same audience, and covers over the 2-34 age groups. And Sherlock Holmes will play stronger for women than Cameron’s opus, unless they come around, which they might. But probably won’t.The story of Avatar’s failure or success will be deemed by how it holds. And it’s got the lock on 3-D until Alice in Wonderland, but again, there’s still a question mark on how this plays, even if people at The Daily Beast are writing take downs. And though there’s been some raves, the negatives go after the film’s central weakness, which seems to be its lacking screenplay and leading man. If there’s no Luke-esque entry point, and it’s just the visuals, it will not have a crossover appeal, and if people love Holmes as much as they are reported to, it could be the conversation film, and much easier to praise than the movie starring ten foot tall cats.

But what about international?

That’s another question, and raises the whole perception vs. reality thing. As Keith Calder pointed out on the twitter, The Golden Compass worldwide did only $15 Million less than Star Trek. One of these films is getting a sequel.

What do you think will happen?

I think it will do just well enough, but there will likely be residual disappointment. Just as the supposed aftertaste of the film is not going to be as awesome as first viewing, and that may also hurt the film. Still, the picture got open. Everything else is just that.


Avatar opens, Morgans is a non-starter, to be walloped by It’s Complicated next week. Since so much of the geek community has to have an opinion on Avatar, expect good numbers this weekend.

1. Avatar – $81 Million
2. The Princess and the Frog – $16.5 Million
3. Did You Hear About the Morgans? – $12 Million
4. The Blind Side – $11 Million
5. Invictus – $7 Million

And then on Sunday we’ll ramble on.