12.18.2009 10:00 AM
“Avatar” Predicted to Break December Box Office Records
NEW YORK: This weekend is the opening one for “Avatar,”
the 3D motion-capture extravaganza from James Cameron. Rich Greenfield of Pali
Capital is pegging it for a record breaker.
“Normally we do not even try to forecast individual movies, however, we thought
it would be useful to understand how 3D is impacting opening weekend box office
results due to pricing premiums and screen count mix,” Greenfield said. “The
mix of 2D, 3D and Imax 3D pricing should result in ‘Avatar’ becoming the
biggest December movie opening in history.”
The top non-holiday December opener so far is “I am Legend,” a 2007 film that
grossed $77 million its first weekend.
“The film was a 2D only release, which implies total attendance was around 11 million,
assuming average ticket price was around $7.”
“New Moon,” the second installment in the “Twilight” series, did $179 million
last month in 2D during its first weekend, meaning about 20 million people saw
it. “... included here simply to give a sense of how many people can attend a
movie over three days,” Greenfield said.
“We are assuming ‘Avatar’ will reach opening weekend attendance levels of about
12 million, with 57.5 percent of attendance occurring on 3D screens yielding total
opening weekend box office of over $100 million,” he said.
By comparison, “Monsters vs. Aliens” and Disney’s “UP” generated around 45
percent of opening weekend box office from about 2,000 3D screens. “Avatar”
opened is opening on 3,400 3D screens domestically, including 178 IMAXes.
“We are assuming only a modest attendance increment to ‘I am Legend’ as ‘Avatar’
is an entire hour longer--2:40 vs. 1:40--limiting the number of runs per day,”
Greenfield said. “While ‘New Moon’ was also quite long at 2:10 in run-time, the
film had a cult-like following and was a sequel, whereas ‘Avatar’ is a completely
“We are assuming 85 percent sell-out or more on the 178 IMAX screens--with a
$13 average ticket price, which is a $3 premium to traditional 3D theaters and
a $6 premium to 2D theaters. [This] equates to a blended opening weekend ticket
price of almost $9, with nearly 70 percent of box office in 3D.”
More on 3D and “Avatar”:
18, 2009: McAdams On: “Avatar”
One of the most notable things about James Cameron’s use of 3D technology in
his new epic movie “Avatar” is his restraint.
11, 2009:“3D Remains a Gimmick, Analyst Says”
While we did not intend to be the ‘3D Scrooge,’ we are
increasingly skeptical that 3D will fundamentally alter the exhibition
26, 2009: “Soccer Match Broadcast
Televisa broadcast the first soccer match in 3D over the weekend.
October 21, 2009: “SMPTE Fall Conference
Focuses on 3D”
Dolby Labs, Fox Network, DTS, and RealD will be on hand with 3D input.
October 8, 2009: “TVB Tech Alert: 3M Develops 3D for Mobile TV”
The auto-stereoscopic 3D film targets cell phones, small video game
consoles, and other portable digital devices and requires no glasses.
October 1, 2009: “TVB Tech Alert: Sony’s Single Lens 3D Technology”
The technology comprises a new optical system that captures left and right
images simultaneously, with existing high frame-rate recording technology to
realize 240 fps 3D filming.
September 24, 2009: “Consumers Care About 3D
About 25 percent of those who are at least somewhat interested in having
the ability to view 3D content at home, however, were unwilling to spend more
money on a 3D TV.
September 11, 2009: “BBC Considers Carrying
2012 Olympics in 3D”
“We could, and I believe should, capture some of the games in 3D.”
September 10, 2009: “NEP Unveils 3D Super
Mobile TV production specialist NEP is rolling out its first 3D truck.
September 2, 2009: “Sony Announces 3D Home
Sony announced this week that it plans to introduce a consumer-ready 3D TV set
next year, as well as build 3D capability into many of its consumer
electronics, encompassing music, movies and video games.
July 30, 2009: “3DTV Launch Set for
BSkyB now plans to launch its 3D channel next year.
July 22, 2009: “Industry Forging Ahead
with 3D Amid Questions”
“Some members fear de facto, non-open standards, for first-generation broadcast
3DTV will result from the technology decisions made by first providers.”
April 6, 2009: “Live 3DTV Debuts in
BSkyB successfully transmitted live 3DTV across it’s systems in the United
March 9, 2009: “More 3DTV Developments”
BSkyB continues plowing toward 3DTV, with a goal to offer it by the end of the