Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Moon opening a (hopefully minor) headache for Avatar.

It's not the least bit fair, but New Moon's $140.7 million opening is very bad news for James Cameron's Avatar. Long advertised as a game-changer, the sci-fi adventure now has a burden of measuring up to this rather stunning performance. Truth be told, no live-action movie containing Avatar's variables (no stars, not a sequel, not a known property, not a literary adaptation) has opened north of $68 million (The Day After Tomorrow). If you want to bend it a bit, you can count 300 (at $70 million, but the comic had a cult following at best) or The Passion of the Christ (which, at $83 million, could theoretically be considered based on a true story not withstanding its literary origins).

And because the trend in entertainment journalism is to go negative as often as possible, New Moon's business will be used as a weapon against Avatar if it doesn't absolutely explode over opening weekend. For example, Spider-Man's $114 million shocker weekend was used as a blunt instrument against Attack of the Clones's perfectly impressive $110 million four-day gross. It very well could open bigger than any non-sequel, non-star vehicle, non-franchise, and non-adaptation in history, but it's a tough place to basically have to set a new record in order to be viewed as a success. I'd love to be wrong, but considering how nuts everyone went over that somewhat fraudulent '$500 million budget' NY Times article, the knives are already out in force. I'd love to see Cameron blow us all away and laugh his way to the bank all over again, but New Moon's $140 million launch is just another problem to deal with from a perception point of view. And, frankly, if Avatar is the real deal, than Fox needs to start screening this thing the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Scott Mendelson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While not doing it so much at the box office, but in a content fashion; in 1999 'The Matrix' was the film that actually blew people away and amazed them with new dazzling special effects and a great original sci-fi story months before 'Phantom Menace' which was supposed to do so (and be the movie to change movies), came out.

I say this hurts 'Avatar' which was probably going to underperform and get 'meh' reviews to begin with. This just kicks it in the right shin while it was already nursing the left one.



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