The Avatar juggernaut continued to roll during the 21-23 January weekend, and now with the actuals out it is confirmed that James Cameron’s sci-fi epic logged a U.S. gross of $34.9m (we had predicted $34m), off only 18 percent from the previous week — a pace that is in line with Titanic’s trend at the same point in its release and the lowest dropoff by far of any wide releases currently in theaters. But the big news was overseas, where Avatar had another $100m plus gross and only dropped off 16% in its holdover territories, moving past Titanic for the highest foreign gross ever, landing at $1.29B and passing Titanic’s tally of $1.24B. Globally, Avatar stands just two million behind Titanic’s combined US and foreign total of $1.84B and seems a lock to pass that milestone on Monday. Other milestones include top sixth weekend ever in the US ($34.9M besting Titanic’s $25m in its sixth frame, the previous best), and Avatar moved past The Dark Knight’s $533m into second place on the all-time US Domestic box office rankings.
So Avatar is now effectively past two of the three major milestones — Best Foreign Gross and Best Global Gross (assuming it does more than $2m globally today)–and the last milestone, U.S. Domestic Gross record held by Titanic at $600.7M, should fall sometime next week.
As the milestones fall, the goalposts move as well as now the dialogue is turning to other measures than basic box office gross — i.e. number of tickets sold, “adjusted for inflation” gross, “adjusted for inflation and 3d premiums” gross, and more. Somehow I don’t think that Fox or Cameron really care.