Well, it seems I hit a nerve with my prediction that Avatar will overtake Titanic and could possibly go as high as $1B domestically. I’ve been getting a lot of heat on some discussion boards. My prediction was called “insane”, “outrageous”, and more. In my original post I gave some of the stats that led me to my conclusion. Here are some more. Check out this chart which tracks all James Cameron directed movies and looks at a) their IMDB User rating (which is a good indicator of level of strength of word of mouth), Weekend 1, Weekend 2, Dropoff from 1-2, and Weekend 2 as a percentage of final total.
And here is a look at Avatar using each of the other Cameron films as a template — showing how it will end up if it adheres to the same template as any one of the above.
So at the low end — with Avatar holding up no better than True Lies, it lands at $530M. But does anyone seriously think it won’t hold up better than that? The IMDB user rating of 8.8 for Avatar is Cameron’s highest, while True Lies at 7.2 is the lowest. Next lowest is Abyss and again, it’s obvious, isn’t it, that Avatar has much stronger word of mouth than the Abyss. In fact if you look at the user rating only — at 8.8 Avatar is way higher than Titanic at 7.3. Now — assume the user rating will come down a bit over time (they usually do), even if it lands at 8.3 or 8.4 it will be way ahead of Titanic and meanwhile the Box Office Gross is way ahead of Titanic at the equivalent point in time.
I think the real test will be next weekend. If we see a drop of 20-30% next weekend, then I think Avatar will have to struggle to get past Titanic in toal US BOB. If the drop is less than that, then it’s a lock to get past Titanic and the only question is how high can it eventually go.
And there’s a statistical reason for how important next weekend is, and how much it will tell us. More on that later.
Oh, and here’s a chart showing a scenario whereby Avatar overtakes Titanic, with Dark Knight also listed for reference. These are just weekend totals (not full weekly totals), so when you get to the bottom and add them all up, they are equal to 70% of the total gross since 70/30 is pretty much the standard split between weekend take and weekday take over the course of a run.