The last two weekends saw the Avatar vs Titanic box office derby reach a point where Titanic finally began to beat Avatar on a “same day of run” basis, and so now that this “crossover” point has been achieved, it’s as good a time as any to take a look at where the two are now, and where Avatar is likely to end up. As of President’s Day Monday, Avatar had reached a total Domestic Gross of $666,388,502, while through the same number of days in release Titanic had reached 376,270,721. This means that Titanic still had $225M of business to go. If Avatar could match that feat, it would land at $911M but there are factors working against Avatar getting that far. First — Avatar’s daily gross at this point in its run (60 days in) has gradually declined from a point where it was consistently bringing in 1.5x Titanic’s daily gross — it’s now running about even and lost the previous two weekends, the first by a tiny margin, but the Valentine’s Day weekend by a more substantial margin. It’s reasonable to think that Titanic was more of a Valentine’s date movie than Avatar, so the Titanic advantage on Valentine’s Day weekend may not be sustained in coming weeks. It will be interesting to see what happens next weekend.
More significantly, however, is the fact that Avatar will lose all of its IMAX screens on March 5, when Alice in Wonderland is released, and then it will lose many of its 3D screens on March 19 when How to Train A Dragon is released. Many multiplexes only have 1 screen available for 3D and contractual commitments to the new films will force Avatar off of 3D screens and relegate it to 2D showings in those mutiplexes which can only show one 3D film.
Another variable — will there be an “Avatar” bump leading in to March 5th when Fox announces “Laast Chance to See Avatar on IMAX”?
On balance, I think it looks like Avatar will easily get to $750m but after that it’s unclear how much farther it will be able to go. I think $800M is beginning to look like the upper end of where it will end up unless there are more surprises in store.