Prediction: Avatar Will Overtake Titanic as the #1 Box Office Hit In History

Weekend Box Office figures are in and Avatar only dropped off 3% which means Cameron’s film has phenomenal word of mouth as well as the ability to draw viewers back for second and third viewings.  Considering that the average dropoff for a blockbuster is around 40%, this bodes extremely well for the longterm prospects and in fact it’s now possible to start trying to figure out just where Avatar will end up.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I believe, based on analysis of the first 10 days and first two weekends,that Avatar will not only exceed Titanic’s record of $600,000,000 — I believe it will be the first film to generate domestic Box Office Gross of $1 Billion.

Here’s why.  The following chart looks at the first 10 daily grosses for Avatar side by side with the first 10 daily grosses for Titanic and Dark Knight, the #2 all time hit with $533M.

If Avatar were trending the way a typical mega-blockbuster trends, it’s $215,000 would probably represent at least 50% of its eventual total — which would mean a final domestic BOG somewhere around $450,000,000 — top 10, but not number 1.  However it’s not trending that way — it’s trending much more like Titanic whose first 10 days only represented 15% of its final total.  Take a moment and let that sink in — because if Avatar eventually trended exactly like Titanic that would mean that its $215,000,000 to date would result in a final US Box Office Gross of a whopping $1.4 Billion.  Let’s say it doesn’t have quite the staying power of Titanic — for example, let’s split the difference between the Dark Knight, which had earned 59% of its total by this point, and Titanic, which had earned 15% — and say that Avatar’s $215 M represents 35% of its total. Avatar still gets to $615,000,000 and bests Titanic for the #1 spot.  Consider all the possible scenarios listed below:

Another thing to look at is the first two weekends and compare that to both Titanic and Dark Knight.

Note that the official estimates as of Sunday morning were that Avatar would end up at $75,000,000 but I’m pretty sure it will exceed estimates when the final numbers come in, just as it did last weekend when it was initially reported to have earned $73M, then upgraded to $77M when final numbers came in.  So — worst case — Avatar dropped 3% and Titanic grew 26% in its second weekend.  But look at Dark Knight — off almost half in its second frame, much more in line with industry norms. So although Avatar is not quite keeping pace with Titanic’s weekend to weekend trend — it is way ahead of Dark Knight and other recent mega blockbusters such as Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man’s Chest which opened at $135M for its first weekend, then dropped 54% to $62m in its second weekend en route to a total of $423m.

Anyway — my final word on this is that Avatar is almost 100% certain to surpass Titanic, and I’d give it at least a 50-50 chance of making it to $1B in domestic box office.

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