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David Poland

By David Poland

Avatar Math

Bloomberg did a story about the dollar distribution on Avatar today… so it got me mathing…
2.75 billion worldwide gross (could be more)
$1.5 billion in rentals come back
$275 million off the top for Fox distribution
$310 million production
$200 P&A
$300 million to Jim Cameron
$415 left over… $249m to funding partners, $166m to Fox
DVD is unusual in a situation like this, in which the DVD sales numbers can’t really be expected to come close to the theatrical numbers. Gross in sales should be no more than $300 million… probably less. That would be a now-massive 17.5 million units sold with record-breaking sales on Blu-ray, raising the price per sale.
Let’s put net ancillaries at a generous $250m. I would guess at $75m to Cameron, leaving $105 million for the funding organizations and $70m for Fox.
That puts the pay out, based on these estimates, at very roughly:
$511 million for Fox
$375m for Jim Cameron
$354m for the 2 funding companies
You could take 10% off of these figures pretty easily. On the other hand, it could be made up for by the re-release of the film in 3D this summer. Could it do $200 million worldwide in re-release? Perhaps
Looking forward to the NYT story… $500 Million Movie Returns $500 Million In Profit To Fox… Even After Throwing Away 60%!!!
I guess what’s really astonishing is that a movie could gross over $3 billion in revenues and the net is “only” $1.2 billion. What’s not being counted here is some very happy theater owners.

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4 Responses to “Avatar Math”

  1. Direwolf says:

    Being a money manager specializing in media stocks, I always like the profit math.
    Good to see the realistic unit volumes on DVD. It will be interesting to see how these films that are getting their branding as 3-D do on DVD. I suspect blu-ray will get a big push to make consumers think it is almost like 3-D. Heck in most non-Avatar cases it is probably better.
    Speaking of 3-D, I am just back from Alice in Wonderland at Century Theaters in Evanston on a Cinemark 3-D XD screen. The film was a lot better than I expected in terms of my interest in the plot but what got me thinking was that it was a matinee and still cost $14. Thus, the 3-D upsell is actually $7.25 as the matinees at this theater are $6.75.
    My question is whether this is standard practice for matinees. If so, with many 3-D films appealing to kids and families, could the average ticker price lift be even more than what is speculated?
    BTW, I am not trying to argue about adjusted grosses for 3-D. Just a question.
    I also saw the How to Train Your Dragon trailer for the first time. It seems like Dreamworks Animation might actually be going for original story over pop culture laughs. That would be a nice change.

  2. EthanG says:

    Nice piece…I think the DVD is being a little liberal. “Twilight” sold a smidge under 11 million with a much greater “Crazy fan” factor. I think Avatar will outperform it but not to the extent you do…maybe 14.5 million? I have a hard time seeing a lot of people wanting to buy it without 3D or Blu-Ray players.

  3. Dreamworks Animation can knock it out of the park (Over the Hedge, Kung Fu Panda) when it wants to, and it certainly seems like How to Train Your Dragon is at least trying to be high-quality entertainment.

  4. guselephant says:

    Why is the estimate for Fox’s distribution fee so low (one sixth the rentals?) and why is Cameron’s estimate so high, percentage-wise? Very hard for me to understand how Cameron personally stands to take more than the funding partners.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon