Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is the impossible happening again? Avatar crosses $100 million in five days, pulls in second $16 million+ weekday.

This can't possibly be happening again, can it? No, it's just the pre-holiday rush, plus those who missed out due to the weekend snowstorm... right? You don't suppose...

OK, here are the numbers. Avatar grossed $77 million over its debut weekend, then grossed another $16.4 million on Monday. That was a drop of just 33% from its $24 million Sunday gross. It was also the third-biggest non-holiday Monday gross in history. It was third only to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($18 million) and The Dark Knight ($24 million). Those two movies opened with $135 million and $158 million respectively. Counting all Mondays, it was eleventh. Yesterday, it pulled in another $16 million. That's the second-biggest non-opening Tuesday in history (behind The Dark Knight's $20 million), and the third-biggest Tuesday gross ever (behind The Dark Knight and Transformers's $27 million opening day). So James Cameron's Avatar has crossed the $100 million mark in five days, ending its fifth day with $109 million. It's also just crossed the $300 million mark in global sales.

That 1.8% drop from Monday to Tuesday is far better than the performances of anything relevant. It's a better hold than The Dark Knight, Pirates 2, The Two Towers, Return of the King (the Monday and Tuesday of Fellowship of the Ring fell on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace, Spider-Man, and King Kong. The first real test will come on Friday, when the film plows into direct demo competition in the form of Sherlock Holmes. That's certainly stronger competition than the openings of As Good As It Gets, Jackie Brown, and The Postman. It's certainly far too early to even think about the unthinkable, but I'm getting a major sense of deja vu, both in the numbers and the sheer excitement from those who generally don't care about this kind of stuff. To quote that classic antiwar protest anthem, something's happening here (and what it is ain't exactly clear).

Scott Mendelson

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