With James Cameron’s track record — Aliens, The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (which racked up over $500M USD at the box office internationally), and Titanic (which pulled in over $1.8B USD internationally) — his latest effort, a science fiction epic dubbed Avatar seemed destined for success. With an official budget of $237M USD and estimates of the real budget being $280-310M USD to produce and $150M USD to advertise (making it perhaps the most expensive movie in history), pressure was high for Cameron to deliver yet another blockbuster.
And deliver he did. Over its opening weekend (December 10), the movie burned up the box office, bringing it $77,025,481 and rocketing it to the second strongest December launch in history. The movie continued its path of sales destruction, topping the important Christmas weekend sales.
Now it has achieved a landmark figure — it has pulled in $1B USD internationally, becoming only one of five movies in history to do so. The past $1B+ blockbusters include Cameron’s own Titanic, which sits atop the chart, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and The Dark Knight. Arguably Avatar is the first true science fiction movie to reach the mark, though The Dark Knight‘s high-tech gizmos allowed it to border on the genre.
The latest epic is notable not only for pushing the boundaries of story-telling and creativity in the science fiction genre, but also for pushing the limits of 3D animation. The inhabitants of the fictional world of Pandora, including the Na’vi (the iconic blue humanoids) are richly portrayed in stunning rendered detail seamlessly alongside real-life counterparts. Thus the film is notable for the tech field not just thanks to the sci-fi genre’s deep impact on the tech community, but also because successes like this push technology that will eventually trickle down to consumer video games and other forms of media.
The picture is considered a leading candidate for a number of awards, as it drew strong reviews. Notably, it’s considered a front-runner for Best Picture at the 82nd Academy Awards. In the online community it has drawn mostly favorable reviews, despite some perceiving its message as a bit anti-technology (though perhaps favorable to biotech).
The film has performed particularly well overseas, where it has garnered $670.2M USD already. The film is the highest grossing film in Russia’s history, the fourth-highest in Spain and Australia, and the second-biggest U.S. movie ever in France, India and South Korea. The film is expected to continue this strong track record when it opens in China today, likely sending its box office looting to new heights.
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