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David Poland

By David Poland

Sunday Estimates by Klady (3-Day, Fri/Sat/Sun)

I don’t have time to do any real analysis this morning… more later today/tomorrow.

However, I want to say it again… “the box office slump” isn’t over, isn’t forgotten, hasn’t been turned around by one movie. The issues that are of real concern are still of real concern. The huffing and puffing of media about slumps while they/we refuse to see the facts that are right in front of our faces is still of real concern.

What is incalculable in this situation is that media, repeating a false idea over and over and over again as fact, can make it fact in people’s heads. Just ask anyone about “why people aren’t going to movie theaters anymore.” We have Sharon Waxman and The New York Times to thank for perpetuating that lie 5 years ago. And it is still spoken of as though it really happened. But it did not. Teen boys are still driving the movie economy first. Texting hasn’t destroyed any film’s Saturday yet. Week-vs-Week analysis of box office is a fool’s errand and always has been, except for the 7 or 8 annual landmark weekends/weeks.

Meanwhile, reduced numbers of tickets sold have been more than made up for by other revenue streams that didn’t exist in 1939. Avatar will generate more cash, even adjusted for inflation, than any movie ever made. But in the media, always too hungry for a story and really uninterested in whether the truth is really being gotten to in a good negative spin on success, we got the obsession about “tickets sold,” when in fact, we don’t have accurate numbers about how many tickets were actually sold for, say, Gone With The Wind, and at what price points. But, hey, print the myth. No one’s reading the damned papers anyway! (another myth)

Thanks to the excesses of this industry, in which new ideas inevitably mature, but are often murdered before they have that chance by oversaturation by the quarter-by-quarter interests of global corporate interests, 3D seems to already have become a hit or miss proposition in the US, while the rest of the world is just getting enough 3D to start them down the road to the same place. A serious discussion of the whys and wherefores should be had… and not just murky “gotchas” about projection issues thrown about simply because critics object to the format being shoved down the throats of both movies that don’t need it and moviegoers. There is value in 3D for filmmakers, studios, and film lovers… just not 25 times a year or more. When it becomes mundane, 3D is a disaster for audiences, unlike sound or color.


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75 Responses to “Sunday Estimates by Klady (3-Day, Fri/Sat/Sun)”

  1. Proman says:

    Yeah, Poland’s solution with not knowing the exact number of “tickets sold” is to ignore it altogether.

    Typical dumb Poland dismissal of something he cannot understand.

  2. EthanG says:

    DP your comments are what I was going on about in the first place….

  3. Proman says:

    Oh and one for thing, about that whole revenue streams thing: You are foundamentally wrong on two counts:

    First of all, those dumb journalists you are referring to, never spoke of anythign other theatrical grosses. Just pure theatrical. So your bringing it up completely out of context screams of miserable desperation.

    Second. Guess what, dumbass? Gone with the Wind had ALL the same revenue streams that Avatar has, including Blu Ray sales. In addition, it has 70 years of vhs, rental, tv rights, what have you. on Avatar. And a person who says that ticket counts should not be spoken of because of impossibility of “having accurate numbers about how” much that is, shouldn’t even *try* to argue that something will generate “more cash, even adjusted for inflation, than any movie ever made”. You are just full of hyperoblic bs, and are never trying to hold your own bs box office observations to the same standards you base your poorly articulated (and do you even know a thing about statistics?) pieces.

    No, it is you who are hungry for a story, pretending that movie budgets relative to the grosses didn’t change at all over decades. Pretending that Gone with the Wind’s money gross was anywhere near the same impact within the first decade of the movie’s release as that of Avatar’s.

    Most of all, you are piss-poor reporter for forgetting that it’s not all about money either. Wherer you like it or not, ET was attended by more people theatrically in this country than Avatar (which, if you new a thing about statistics you’d know we can get that information with a tiniest of margin of errors – heck give everyone who saw ET an adult ticket price it would still handily beat Avatar). And as much as you would like to pretend it’s not important, there too, is value in that information.

  4. JS Partisan says:

    Proman, thanks for the above, and let me also add that Avatar is representative of something that’s never going to happen again, and that’s a 3D movie that everyone has to see! Seriously, Avatar’s gross should be referred to as DEATH MONEY because it basically, almost with one fail swoop, brought about, and killed 3D.

    Sure it made money but it failed at it’s purpose, the gross will always have an implied asterisk by it, and there’s the other thing about the way that movie is viewed at this point. Seriously, if we are going to bring up the future, then it’s clear one movie is going to infinity and beyond. While the other most likely will not.

    Seriously, someone needed to tell Cameron and Bay that 3D is dead at their little symposium the other day. I love it, I enjoy it, but it’s going to fade away like it did during the 80s, and that’s just sad.

  5. LexG says:

    There’s nowhere more appropriate to say this, but did anyone catch that new, long, fuck-it-show-everything trailer for THE GREEN LANTERN that’s attached to Hangover Part II?

    Wow, that thing looks DORKY AS FUCK. What is this, 1985?

  6. EthanG says:

    Proman, what planet are you from? Yup, some journalists haven’t dug deep enough during the “slump” to bring up anything but domestic box office, but others have, and it’s crazy to slam Poland for not adhering to the lowest standard possible. Years ago the rental market started to dry up…but then DVD/BluRay/HDDVD came along…..then DVD sales dried up and were replaced with 3D….which will be replaced with who knows? Maybe premium VOD maybe not. Maybe we’re finally seeing a fundamental shift here…who knows? Why slam Poland for discussing something barely topical articles in so-called prestigious publications don’t even touch on?

    “Gone With the Wind” has a demographic maybe 10% the size of “Avatar” in this day and age and that’s being generous. Avatar is closing in on 200 MILLION in domestic DVD sales alone. Including rentals/overseas it’s closing in on 500 million worldwide on the home market. GWTW isn’t even close. The Blu-Ray didn’t debut in the top 10 the week it was released.

    Yall are talking about a movie that made twice as much as GWTW made adjusted for inflation if you include the home market…and that’s not a game changer? GWTW had “all the same revenue streams?” Most ignorant statement Ive ever read on this blog….ever heard of international box office fool? Also, buddy, GWTW was re-released 6 times before 1999, and all of it’s “adjusted box office” is still based on that 1939 release date because box office wasn’t an outside industry issue until more recently, so that domestic box office total is wildly inflated to begin with. Keep smoking whatever it is that you’re on….

  7. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually — and I’ve said this before — there are some film historians who’ll tell you that, strictly in terms of tickets sold, Birth of a Nation remains the No. 1 movie of all time. But, unfortunately, because ticket sales weren’t recorded with anything approaching accuracy back in the day, we’ll never know for certain. I’m not sure I buy into that, but it’s an intriguing theory.

    Also — and David, I don’t mean this as a dis, just an observation — if a movie has been around for 70 years, as opposed to 3 or 4, isn’t it reasonable to assume that it has sold zillions more tickets worldwide than the newer film? And that if you do adjust for inflation…

    And BTW: If we really want to split hairs: GWTW was reissued at least twice that I know of as a roadshow attraction — meaning that it sold tickets that were costlier than average movie ticket prices. Would that “roadshow bump” be kinda-sorta equivalent to the “3D bump” for Avatar?

  8. Joe Leydon says:

    EthanG: I’m not certain what you mean by this statement: “Ever heard of international box office fool?” Are you saying GWTW has never been released internationally? Because if you are… well, you’re mistaken.

  9. bulldog68 says:

    Dammit Joe, I left my BBQ Pork ribs on the grill too long. Was going for that new orleans style. Aww well, still some good eating.

  10. Joe Leydon says:

    Bulldog: Now you can say they’re “blackened” ribs. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  11. David Poland says:

    Joe… there are plenty of 70 year old movies that don’t even exist anymore. Not sure about what assumption you want to make.

    The point I am making is, unlike the rantings of Proman, putting words in my mouth I have never said or considered, I am not dissing GWTW or any other old movie. All I am defending is reality. Yes, DWTW sold a lot more tickets than Avatar… with no TV in existence, etc, etc.

    But this tickets sold thing is, for the loudest who scream about it, an opportunity to spin down what is happening in theatrical today, not a simple notation of history.

    And as I keep pointing out, the GWTW number is completely inaccurate. The one thing that documents available on the web have made clear is that GWTW charged a lot more than the average movie ticket price of the day. And that doesn’t mean I think it sold fewer theatrical tickets than Avatar… but I am not a big fan of running numbers we know to be false just because BO Mojo posted them. Love BOMOjo, but they have no authority whatsoever as a source of pre-1999 info.

    I’m sure there was more firepower used in the days it took the US to take over Iraq than the US used in the Civil War and World War I combined. Who f-ing cares? I do care that there is as much explosive force used to mine West Virginian mountains in a week or two than was used on Hiroshima… but it still isn’t much of an argument about weapons.

    And as EthanG points out, the scale on the VHS/DVD side is a lot less extreme than 1939 ticket sales vs 2009 ticket sales.

    Proman screams and shouts, but has to reach to pretend that I don’t take all the things he claims I don’t even realize into account.

    I have never said that Avatar had the impact on the world that GWTW did. That’s a completely different argument. ET… a lot closer. (Was Proman alive when ET opened?)

    All facts matter.

    But again… trying to spin perspective because you want to be negative about what’s happening now is just shit. JSP/IO doesn’t know that there will never be another Avatar any more than anyone knew that Avatar would gross almost 2.5x what any non-Jim Cameron movie had ever grossed before and $900 million more than the movie that had owned the top spot handily, seemingly insurmountably, for over a decade.

    We still don’t talk about whether any movie this summer or pretty much any time will crack $1.2 billion, much less $2.7 billion.

    And Joe – If GWTW was, in theory, released worldwide today, its international would be – by whatever count – much bigger than it is from the release 70 years ago, with all those year in re-release, etc. International has been mined much more aggressively in the last decade than ever before.

  12. Joe Leydon says:

    Apropos of nothing: I have been told that Eva Braun loved GWTW — and that Hitler teased her about this. Of course, Hitler loved Mickey Mouse cartoons, so go figure.

    And while, strictly speaking, this has nothing to do with ticket sales: If we’re talking just about people who are alive right now — not people who have been around since 1939, or even since 1979 — what movie has been seen by more people worldwide: Avatar or GWTW? Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Avatar has the edge.

  13. David Poland says:

    It’s like simulating Super Bowls between previous Super Bowl winners. Nothing matches up right.

    Could the ’72 Dolphins be defeated by some future team? Certainly. But we know that that team was never defeated… so how could it be defeated in a simulation. But everyone in the 90s was faster and bigger… of course they’d be beat by the Niners. But would they?

    Turns out the NYT has already run a Brooks Barnes story featuring the knuckle-headed self-promoter Richard Greenfield bringing down the sky on 3D. The story, thank God, is more balanced than Greenfield, but damned if they don’t lead with him.

    On the other hand, the studios have no one to blame but themselves if they continue to use stats that are so uninformative that they can be easily bent in whatever direction the writer wishes.

    They should keep in mind that the rest of the world is usually one cycle behind the US in terms of theatrical ripples. If there is a wave against 3D happening here, it will happen there by next summer.

  14. JS Partisan says:

    David, nothing will approach Avatar because there’s no way to do it anymore. It’s an inflated record. Stating otherwise, ignores the obvious because 3D is dead, people will never so blindingly go to an event 3D film ever again, and without the BUMP what film can beat an inflated record? It’s like Oscar Robertson’s triple double season. No one will ever beat that record because the NBA no longer plays under those rules.

    GWTW, Titanic, ET, Star Wars, LOTR, and TDK all play by relatively the same rules even though things changed from era to era. Avatar, does not play by those rules, has an inflated gross because of it, and that’s reason alone to dismiss it right out of hand. It’s Oscar’s Triple Double. A great stat that does not look as great once you REALLY investigate it.

    Oh yeah Ethan, you might know box office, but you bringing up the GWTW BD not making the top ten. States, in glaring detail, that you had no idea that the GWTW BD boxset/DVD boxset were about 60 bucks a pop.

    Also, bringing up GWTW compared Avatar is stupid. Why? THE STAR WARS SAGA EXIST! A New Hope and TPM made craploads of money in theatrical and inflating, changes the equation.

  15. Krillian says:

    3D will be revived when Avatar 2 opens.

  16. David Poland says:

    JSP – Avatar was well past a 25% bump over Titanic. Your argument makes no sense.

    And the same arguments being made about Avatar were made about The Star Wars Saga. Moreover, we have a more modern history with Episodes 1-3, none of which crossed the billion dollar mark.

    ET and The Dark Knight played by the same rules? You’re kidding, right? ET never played on as many as 2000 screens. Dark Knight opened on over 10,000. There was no DVD when ET launched. There was barely a premium cable business when ET launched. HBO went 24/7 about 6 months before ET came out.

    Avatar grossed 2.5x what Dark Knight grossed, just 18 months later. So there was a 250% 3D bump?


  17. David Poland says:

    3D will still have some big success this summer. Potter, Transformers, and Cars 2 will all do really well and benefit from the bump.

  18. actionman says:


  19. Joe Straatmann says:

    So, haters gonna hate over Avatar again and everyone’s going to break out some economics they would never use on anything else-well, besides the last James Cameron movie people wanted to rip down-to prove Avatar wasn’t a big deal when it’s pretty damn well clear it was whether you liked it or not (I saw it once, liked it. That’s it), and how much their particular golden calf was bigger. Not that Avatar itself can’t be a golden calf, but damn people are taking box office numbers extremely personally, like if their movie does not have the magic stat that’s clearly superior to Avatar, then that means they don’t love their movie enough.

  20. nikki whisperer says:

    Love ’em or hate ’em, AVATAR and TITANIC both had insane legs (as did TDK), which means people GENUINELY loved them and wanted to see them again and again and they were able to stay in first-run theatres for months on end. As opposed to most modern “blockbusters,” which are a distant memory and practically out of theatres after a month. And also important, all talk of the DVD business withering aside, is that the movies that people genuinely LIKE and that play a long time do inordinately better on home video, because that means it’s a movie people genuinely want to OWN. As always, IT’S THE MOVIES, STUPID.

  21. JS Partisan says:

    David, advances are different then a 3D bump worth 80 percent of the domestic gross. Even with IMAX for TDK, it made it’s money like every movie made before it except Avatar. Which made it’s money with close to 20 dollar surcharged tickets. 80 percent David and I do remember you doubting this supposition a year ago. Nevertheless, if TDK-R makes 2 billion the real way. You know what the spin will be? “It made it’s money without the 3D bump”, and that will make it a much more impressive feat then anything ever accomplished at the box office by James Cameron.

    Kril, who wants an Avatar 2 in 3D? Seriously, Cars, HP, and TF3 will not be aided by 3D one damn bit. The tide has turned. It’s over and that sucks because it’s a fun technology.

  22. bulldog68 says:

    With all the talk of the 3D bump, which is a real thing strictly because of the increased ticket prices, I still fail to see how that affects a 3D movie’s legs. So far, we still only have 2 3D movies that have opened north of $100m, Toy Story3 and Alice in Wonderland, and the legs on Shrek4, Up,and Toy Story3 were more or less in line with their respective counterparts, in fact Toy Story3 had the worse legs of the franchise.

    Looking at the opening weekend/total gross ratio, I see nothing that stands out spectacularly to say that 3D movies have had better legs. I would like someone to define for me exactly when did 3D lead to unusually higher numbers, and now that the perception is that that bubble has burst, when did that happen.

    Arguing that Avatar’s gross is unfair because of 3D, is like arguing that Star Wars’ gross is unfair because of special effects. People are not choosing to remember that Avatar, much like Titanic, broke no records when it opened. Explain to me how any movie opens to $77M and does 10 times this number if it wasn’t through good WOM.

    And thus far, we have only had 8 3D movies cross $200m, the modern blockbuster benchmark, and all but two have been animated. Some big bump.

  23. JS Partisan says:

    Bulldog, you love to make these very weird straw man arguments. Star Wars had visual fx like countless films before it. It just had better fx.

    Avatar had 80 percent of it’s domestic gross effected by 3D. That’s a fact, it’s what happened, and that’s how you explain most of it away domestically. Internationally can explained away by you know, it’s international, and they loved 2012.

    Again, there is no longer any 3D bump because Avatar killed it off. This is why all of these films being in 3D this year is stupid. Avatar got the most out of that technology, good for all those involved, but in the end it failed to turn the tide. Now what are the studios going to do?

    Oh yeah, the whole thing with David’s argument is: it’s not the perception. The perception for Avatar is that it’s gross is inflated by 3D. That’s the perception and no matter how many times anyone spins their wheels about the reality. Well, the perception has won out the day, and that is indeed that.

  24. bulldog68 says:

    So Partisan, is your argument that the 80% that saw Avatar in 3D would not have been there, therefore the gross would have been only $152M, or 20% of $760M, or should we just take away the increased ticket price which would bring it down to still over $600.

    Gotta say though, this argument is very old, and ends really in no result.

  25. arisp says:

    JS – it is irrelevant who wants Avatar 2 in 3D. What a useless question. The fact is that it will happen in 3D, and make a ton of bank. End of story.

  26. anghus says:

    i won’t argue the financials on Avatar. It’s difficult to break the numbers down because the only reason it was such an event film was because of the 3D tech that Cameron developed as well as the realistic motion capture.

    Without the 3D, the movie would have been big. It was James Cameron post Titanic. But if you pretend that Avatar would have been the biggest grossing movie of all time times two, without the 3D, then you’re probably a little naive or one shot of whiskey away from blowing Jim Cameron. It’s not even that there was a 3D bump. I won’t even try to make that argument. The 3D bump applies to movies that try and use 3D to help add to the ticket sales.

    Avatar was an event film sold to the public on James Cameron, the most successful mainstream Director of all time, and groundbreaking technology that brought things to screen that were previously impossible.

    That’s not a ‘bump’. That’s part of the big sell.

    The 3D bump is a valid theory and should be applied to stuff like Last Airbender, Thor, Green Hornet, etc. The post converted 3D films that try and use it to beef up the ticket prices for films that aren’t conceived or shot in 3D.

    Try to picture Avatar’s marketing without the 3D. Hypothetically, if the technology didn’t exist, if it was just a really big sprawling movie with really good FX and groundbreaking motion capture. It might have topped Titanic, but don’t think it would have lapped the competition.

    You can debate the 3D bump on almost every film, but it was so deeply woven into Avatar as part of the event, that i think referring to it as a “3D bump” is almost insulting. And i loathe the movie. But to try and calculate the same kind of financial benefit between Avatar and Gullivers Travels seems almost insulting.


  27. SC says:

    Avatar was released before the theater owners really bumped up the 3D surcharge in March 2010. I think it was only $2 extra per ticket or so before that.

  28. JS Partisan says:

    1) SC, there are people who post in this very blog who had to pay up to 18 dollars to see Avatar. The Surcharges exist and they were not 2 dollars across the country.

    2) Anghus, they did a study, and the bump for Avatar domestically is 80 percent. Forbes did it.

    3) Arisp, it’s not a question. It’s a declarative question. Seriously, I will plop down 10 bucks for anyone who believes those Avatar sequels will make a fraction of what that first… film made.

    4) BD, it would have made bank, but it would have barely earned past TDK. Again, you guys can argue all you want because again, I agree with the perception, and the perception wins the day. This is why Inception, with no 3D bump, earning what it did last year is impressive. This is also why what TDK-R makes, no matter what, is more impressive.

    You can’t fight city hall folks, and city hall made a decision about Avatar last year. Yes, Nikki Finke is city hall.

  29. Foamy Squirrel says:


    Jesus Partisan/IO, you trot the Forbes thing out every 3 months and EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU MISQUOTE IT.

    The Forbes article says that 80% of the tickets sold were 3D, the companion article says that the tickets had a $3 surcharge. That does not mean that 80% of the money came from 3D!

    We’ve been over this dozens of times – the marketing effect (people wanting to see it because it was groundbreaking 3D) was huge. The 3D ticket effect (people paying more per ticket) was not huge. Influential, yes, but nowhere near enough to propel it some billion dollars past Titanic.

  30. JS Partisan says:

    FS: again, the perception, and that’s the end of that. Seriously, it’s perceived as an over inflated turkey now. That’s a Citizen Kane gif for all of you…

    Please, please go on against the perception that is now reality. Please, fight, against the dying of your argument’s light. It’s quaint. Ding Ding.

  31. Joe Straatmann says:

    Yes, a third sequel in a known franchise that’s been a profit bonanza when it hits even before Christopher Nolan came along is much more impressive than when James Cameron put his ass on the line with a hugely expensive original property (Yeah, it rips off Dances With Wolves, Ferngully, and all that, but it wasn’t attached to any property that would sell tickets) and made it a $2 billion event. Or if you don’t want to go with that, we can go with when Titanic spent 3-and-a-half months at #1 and then even as far as August 9 months down the line was making over $1 million a week. When you put something even like Batman Begins out there, the franchise itself is its own safety net, and even with Inception, Nolan had a bit of work safety because even if it doesn’t hit, he can still make another Batman movie and make all that money back. Cameron worked without a safety net, spending his own money in some cases, and with many people flat-out calling him insane, and pulling that kind of success in those circumstances will always be more impressive on a financial side, regardless of how much I like the movies (TDK obliterates Avatar as far as quality goes).

  32. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Partisan – I’m pointing out that the Forbes article you quote for point (2) not only disagrees with your point, it also refutes your point (1).

    You quote “evidence” that shoots down two parts of your own argument!

  33. David Poland says:

    ‘a 3D bump worth 80 percent of the domestic gross”


    So the gross is penalized the entirety of its gross on 3D screens (not 80%, but whatever)?

    Yeah, you’re interested in a serious discussion about box office. Uh huh.

    And if the next Nolan Batman does $2 billion, I will be absolutely happy to say that it’s box office haul is every bit as impressive as Avatar, if not more so. Promise.

    But it’s enormously unlikely to hit $1.2 billion, much less $1.8 billion, much less $2 billion, much less $2.7 billion.

    Trying to be respectful, JSP/IO, but this is, perhaps, the single stupidest argument made about box office I have ever heard.

    And Anghus, the 3D of Avatar misses its real technological advances. I agree that it would not have made $2.7 billion without 3D. It may not have made Titanic’s record. But it would have been $1.5 billion… easy.

    But arguing the logic of what makes that movie work – it’s not the 3D – is a bit futile with some of you.

  34. Edward Havens says:

    About four years ago, in anticipation of its 70th Anniversary, I contemplated going down to the Academy Library on La Cienega and go through every issue of weekly Variety from December 1939 to December 1950, and jotting down every box office figure from every screen playing Gone With The Wind that I could find, for an article about the fallacy of the adjusted gross. (Remember, for many years until the mid 1980s, Variety listed individual house grosses from major exchanges, along with such minutia as the seating capacity, house nut and top ticket price.) I never got around to it, because I realized the enormousness of the project, but if I ever get back down to Los Angeles someday, and someone else hasn’t done it first, I’d still like to see that happen.

  35. Edward Havens says:

    JS Partisan said “Seriously, I will plop down 10 bucks for anyone who believes those Avatar sequels will make a fraction of what that first… film made.” But since JS didn’t say which fraction, I will take that bet, since I do believe Avatar 2 and 3 will each make a fraction of what the first film made. It might be 1/2, or 1/3 or 3/4 or 17/43 or even 53/47, but whatever Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 made, it will most absolutely, most certainly be a fraction of what the first film made.

    JS, email me at edwardhavens at gmail dot com and I will let you know where you can PayPal my $10. Thank you.

  36. JS Partisan says:

    David, you just bet against another Nolan movie 14 months out, so when it goes past your projections. Please, please, please do not get angry at me for bringing this up.

    You’ve doubted Nolan twice now. I look forward to how you flail the third time. You folks also have to understand that for all extents and purposes: I don’t care. 3D is dead, the movie failed at it’s singular purpose, and that’s all you have to say about Avatar. Stupid argument? You just bet against Nolan again. No offense but that’s as stupid to me as you believe my not caring about Avatar one bit and just messing with you guys argument to be.

    Oh yeah, Hurt Locker and please find 10 people for a DP/30 SPECIAL EVENT who enjoyed anything with Avatar outside of the 3D! What worked about that story is that it’s Dance With Wolves and Pocahontas all rolled into one. NOOCH!

    Ed, I would mail you that ten dollars but we all know AVA 2 and AVA 3 are about as likely as happening as Professor Zoom succeeding in keeping Barry Allen in FLASHPOINT!

  37. anghus says:


    what makes the movie ‘work’ and what drove the ticket purchases are 2 separate arguments.

  38. David Poland says:

    Anghus… Yes. And no.

    $2.7b also means a lot of repeat views.

    Why people went was for the event of it all, no? ” You’ve never seen anything like it!”

    But how much of that experience was the 3D, how much was the filmmaking aside from 3D. Impossible to disconnect (unless you are JSP).

    I would argue that the big change in Avatar was less 3D than the big, masterful action movie combined with the singular visual look… much more like Dark Knight and Inception than some want to believe.

  39. ROss says:

    Um, Wasn’t Poland the complete dumb-ass who 2 years ago said The Hangover would top out at 70 milion domestic because it was opening with Land of the Lost which would be huge? He was SO wrong on every level with that prediction he should have had his column pulled!

  40. EthanG says:

    Joe: the point is international box office when GWTW was released and re-released is a tiny sliver of what it is now. To say that the revenue stream at the time is anywhere close to where it is now for international BO seems ignorant to me.

  41. I’m pretty sure that Avatar will indeed make ‘a fraction’ of what the first film made. Will it approach the records of the first Avatar? Not a clue, a lot will depend on if it’s any good. But the idea that the film only made its money because of 3D is absurd and just-plain inaccurate. This is not a new idea, but a key part of ‘blockbuster backlash’ is basically assigning the success of a movie to one item that arguably has nothing to do with its quality. So Avatar was only a hit because of the 3D, Dark Knight was only a hit because Ledger died (just you wait…), Jurassic Park was only a hit because of the dino effects, Titanic was only a hit because teen girls love DiCaprio, ID4 was only a hit because of the Super Bowl trailer, etc etc. Avatar played for months because lots of people thought it was a really good movie that worked on a primal level. It was a case of ‘come for the 3D, stay for the movie’.

    As for The Dark Knight Rises, while I’m sure it will make mountains of cash, I just can’t imagine regular non-nerds being excited about Batman going up against that legendary fictional icon known as Bane. A BIG part of why The Dark Knight played as well as it did was because it promised a definitive Batman vs Joker story. Yes, Health Ledger’s demise helped the film on opening weekend, with tons of free publicity in the months leading up to it. But it would have helped a lot less if Ledger were playing Clayface. I was wrong on The Dark Knight, but that was partially because I was so personally jazzed for the film that I didn’t want to overstate its box office potential. This time around, even me, the hardcore Bat-nut, is merely intrigued. The Dark Knight was arguably the ‘ultimate Batman movie’ (Batman, Gordon, and Dent vs the Joker!) that arguably became the defining film of the last decade (it was THE statement on how we all had the civility/decency scared out of us after 9/11 and the moral price we paid for that over the next ten years). I just can’t imagine the next Batman film being as much of a cultural event as the last one. But we’ll see soon enough.

  42. Krillian says:

    It’s hard to remember what it was like over a year before Dark Knight opened, when some thought Heath Ledger as Joker was miscasting. Catwoman and Bane (and likely the al-Ghul daughter) immediately aren’t near as exciting as Joker and Two-Face, so I do think it has a steeper hill to climb hype-wise.

    Most theaters around here charge $2.50 or $3 per 3D ticket. I resent it when tickets are only available for the 3D screening of what I want to see. “How about charge me regular price and don’t give me glasses?”

  43. Gustavo says:

    “Internationally can explained away by you know, it’s international, and they loved 2012.”

    Do you realize that 2012 grossed 166 million in the US alone, and that its international gross is the total sum of DOZENS of countries, none of which generated the same amount of money that the US did?

    Think twice before posting idiotic xenophobic remarks, my dear friend.

  44. David Poland says:

    Ross is playing “telephone.”

  45. anghus says:


    that is true. one thing that people rarely talk about when discussing Avatar numbers is repeat business. And i believe you’re right. 3D isn’t the reason someone goes back to see a movie twice.

  46. JS Partisan says:

    Gustavo, how is that xenophobic? Until you folks recognize the power, the glory, and the awesome of Denzel Washington. I will continue to dismiss the taste of the international box office. Don’t mess with a man who loves Denzel, y’all. Seriously, go watch 2012!

    David, sorry, but the repeating viewings on Avatar have everything to do with the 3D. Again, go find me ten people who love the STORY of Avatar and not the visuals. Much like with ID4, people went repeatedly to look at the pretty pretty visuals. Later, when they owned it or watched it on cable, did they realize just how crap it is, and let’s give Cameron some props for getting people to the theatre to repeatedly watch a pot full of stew. Good for him, but let’s stop acting as if the story in Avatar mattered to audiences fully embracing 3D for the first time.

    Ethan, it’s the most anticipated sequel of all-time. It’s a trilogy closer. It’s a Christopher Nolan Batman film. Seriously. Think about that for a moment then get back to me with something that represents the facts of Nolan’s career as of late.

  47. Hallick says:

    “Ethan, it’s the most anticipated sequel of all-time.”

    One of the most, but not even THE most. Not more than The Empire Strikes Back, or Return of the Jedi, or Matrix Revolutions, to throw out three examples off the top of my head. Ledger’s dead, the Joker isn’t coming back, and Bane hasn’t set many imaginations on fire as a follow-up villain so far. Maybe he’ll prove to be a lot more, but not so far.

    I think expectations are tempered for the next Batman movie, and I say that with all due respect to the franchise as somebody who thinks Ledger’s Joker is a viable contender for THE SINGLE BEST MOVIE CHARACTER OF MY LIFETIME IF NOT LONGER.

  48. yancyskancy says:

    AVATAR is a pretty stunning visual experience on Blu, even without the 3D.

  49. Proman says:

    Poland, your predictions on Midnight in Paris landing between 5-10 million are all wrong. That movie is going to do at least as well as VCB.

  50. christian says:

    And who would go see a movie called BRIDESMAIDS?

  51. Joe Leydon says:

    Anghus: Very good point. I don’t suppose there’s any way to get totally accurate info about this, but it would be interesting to see which all-time box-office hits have gotten the most repeat biz. Back in the day, as I recall, The Graduate was considered a phenom because college students kept going to see it again and again. More recently: Passion of the Christ turned many of the faithful into repeat customers. And, of course, in the pre-TV era, there was GWTW, which I know for a fact was positively addictive for acquaintances of mine.

  52. Joe Leydon says:

    EthanG: I’m not sure I agree. Hollywood has always relied heavily on overseas grosses. That’s one reason — not the only reason, by any means, but a significant one — why, if you look at US movies of the 30s and very early 40s, you’ll see surprisingly few movies overtly critical of fascism and/or Nazism. Flicks like Confessions of a Nazi Spy and The Mortal Storm were very much exceptions to the norm, because the majors wanted to keep their movies playing in Germany, Italy, etc. I would not be surprised to discover that for blockbusters like GWTW, The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, etc., overseas grosses constituted a very similar percentage (if not exactly the same percentage) of overall grosses when compared to Avatar.

    Of course, as David has pointed out: We’ll never know for sure.

  53. anghus says:

    it’s interesting Joe because it’s an almost incalcuable number and difficult to predict.

    And with the changing theater counts and limited theatrical windows, repeat business is something that has all but vanished from 99% of the films in the marketplace. You see a movie once and then you mentally decide to pick up the Blu Ray when it comes out. Why even bother seeing it twice in the theater?

  54. Joe Leydon says:

    True enough. I can think of a handful of films I’ve seen twice (or more) in theaters during recent years. And in almost every case — Four Brothers, Love, Actually, The Matador, Tiny Furniture and That Evening Sun for example — I’ve gone back either to bring someone else to see the movie, or I’ve introduced it at a film festival or museum screening. On the other hand, I remember seeing movies like The Hired Hand, In the Heat of the Night, Charlie Bubbles and a few others 6 or 7 times times each in theaters back in the day.

  55. LexG says:

    I have to see shit twice ALL the time. Usually because the audience is so fucking retarded and annoying and distracting, you walk out of the movie feeling like you could barely pay attention and missed whole plot points and were just counting the seconds till you could leave. I always feel like I need to see it again after something like that, or bad projection/sound.

  56. bulldog68 says:

    Actually, the last movies I saw in theatres twice was Inception. Before that, Hangover1, before that, UP, and and before that Pirates1. One of the movies I really wanted to see a 2nd time but couldn’t was Drag me to hell. The audience was really into that movie.

  57. I used to see stuff in all kinds of stuff in theaters multiple times. But no more. Saw five films in theaters multiple times in 2005 (Kingdom of Heaven, Revenge of the Sith, Batman Begins -3x-, Legend of Zorro, King Kong), none in 2006, three in 2007 (Meet the Robinsons, Live Free or Die Hard with the future in-laws, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), and one in 2008 (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with my dad about a week after opening). Have not done it once since. It’s just a time issue (marriage, kids, job, etc). It’s one of those things, like midnight screenings and buying lots of DVDs, that I genuinely miss as it makes me realize that I’m a ‘grownup’, but I also don’t think I’m that much poorer for only having seen Inception or Avatar once in theaters. I don’t buy NEARLY the number of DVDs that I used to even a few years ago (hardly any, as I realized this past tax season). It’s tough to justify buying a title so that you can watch it over and over again when you rarely have the time or inclination to watch it more than a couple times post-theatrical.

  58. anghus says:

    The only movie i remember seeing multiple times were ages ago. Batman and Batman Returns.

  59. Joe Leydon says:

    Speaking of watching movies again: I just finished watching a “restored” version of Sam Peckinaph’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. (Specifically, the 2005 “Special Edition.”) Back in 1972, it was drastically re-cut by the studio before it hit theaters. I remember seeing it at the time and disliking it, and wondering whether Peckinpah’s original cut would have been better. Well, now it know. It isn’t.

    On the other hand, Chill Wills has a great line about a new whore at the local bordello: “She’s got an ass on her like a forty-dollar cow. And a tit — I’d like to see that filled with tequila.”

  60. JS Partisan says:

    1) Scott, very weird post above.

    2) Yancy, it’s one hell of a weird looking movie in 2D and in High Def.

    3) Christian, Thor. Nooch.

    4) Hal, remember Kril’s post, Hardy is going to blow up in the Warrior, and all of your hesitations are those of a person who post on this blog. Seriously, only here are there people excited about Avatar sequels. God bless you people but you doubt Nolan way too much, and it’s once again going to bite you in the butt. Hell, I doubted him, and I got bit in the ass!

  61. bulldog68 says:

    Who is this JS Partisan fellow and why is he channeling IO?

  62. JS Partisan says:

    BD, I am at least not throwing crazy straw men arguments out there like the Cornelia Marie crew throwing Derrick Ray off their boat!

  63. SamLowry says:

    “3D isn’t the reason someone goes back to see a movie twice.”

    Really? Because my impression of Avatar is the one word nobody has used yet: It’s a ride. And if it’s a great ride, then of course you’re going to want to ride again.

    But the one thing nobody really cares about on a ride is the storyline. If the visuals, sensurround, pitch, yaw and roll are truly great, then all that yakkety-yak can be easily ignored.

  64. bulldog68 says:

    Who? throwing who? Or is it whom?

  65. leahnz says:

    i like avatar’s story, it’s a luuuuurve story. so fuck all y’all

    (but not really, just sort of)

    oh and joe saw ‘the matador’ twice. julian noble, legend brosnan perf

  66. yancyskancy says:

    Ditto on the praise for Brosnan in THE MATADOR (meant to do that last time you mentioned it, leah), with added props to Kinnear.

  67. leahnz says:

    sort of relieved it’s not just me, yancy…and possibly joe with the ‘matador’ two-fer. kinnear is quite wonderful in his role, one of his best i think; danny and julian as such radically different characters share a fascinating quiet desperation that draws them together and underpins their odd ‘friendship’, somehow kinnear and brosnan really make their straight sad man/debauched and ruined sad man routine work with such dark humour and pathos (and the art direction is really quite stunning, the colours and compositions particularly in the hotel setting are unexpectedly wonderful — i keep looking out for more of richard shepard but after ‘the hunting party’, which i found interesting but frustratingly uneven and undercooked, i haven’t heard a peep)

    oh and hope davis as ‘bean’ in her relatively small but pivotal role is just a delight. i want to be bean’s mate and bask in her glow.

  68. yancyskancy says:

    Yeah, THE MATADOR was a pleasant surprise (caught it on DVD a couple of years ago). I do think there’s an inconsistency of tone in terms of Kinnear’s feelings about Brosnan’s activities, probably shared by Shepard, who apparently wanted to at least partially redeem an irredeemable character. At the same time, I was pleasantly surprised that he dug a bit deeper than the usual comic thriller, and didn’t play all his cards up front. And, as you say, his eye for widescreen composition and bold colors is a big plus. This is undoubtedly the gig that led to his helming the UGLY BETTY pilot, for which he won an Emmy.

    Haven’t seen THE HUNTING PARTY, but his John Cazale doc was nice. Looks like he’s mostly doing TV now, including episodes of 30 ROCK, CRIMINAL MINDS and the upcoming Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle, RINGER. Hope he can get another feature off the ground.

  69. Joe Leydon says:

    Leahnz: Actually, I saw The Matador a second time because I enjoyed it so much when I reviewed it for Variety at Sundance that, when it hit theaters several months later, I wanted to share it with my wife and a friend on the friend’s birthday. (I also managed to talk the NY Daily News into a preview piece after I interviewed the director and Brosnan at the Toronto Festival.) I was actually quite disappointed that the movie didn’t fare better with audiences (and other critics.) As I recall, Brosnan received a Golden Globe nomination, and was even talked up as a possible Oscar contender. He’s really an under-rated actor — and, funnily enough, I’ve been told by some filmmakers that he’s actually considered bankable. Shana Feste gives him major props not only as an actor, but as a prime reason why she was able to get financing for The Greatest.

  70. Joe Leydon says:

    And I actually forgot he was in The Hunting Party. I have a DVD for that one somewhere — must check it out.

  71. Joe Leydon says:

    D’oh. I mean I forgot Richard Shepard directed Hunting Party. Richard Gere was star of that one.

  72. Ross says:

    The Hangover 2 will make about 350 Million and be the 2nd highest grossing movie of the summer, behind Transformers. Period.

  73. hcat says:

    So Panda 2 opens to about the same decent but unspectacular number as Megamind (which also opened against a Phillips film), so can the deflation, compared to other DW titles, be attributed to actual competition for the adult audience that often shows up for animated films. All the other big openers for Dreamworks opened with the weekend all to themselves making them the top choice for audiences regardless of age. But do people think that having chosen to see Hangover instead, the non-kid audience is going to check out Panda in the next few weeks or pass on it entirely?

  74. Meredith Wobbleton says:

    You are not correct since you don’t know who THE IGOR is.

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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