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The King is Dead - Long Live the King!
by Christopher Stone

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It took James Cameron to sink James Cameron. What were you doing the weekend of January 22-24? That's when James Cameron's AVATAR sank James Cameron's TITANTIC as the all-time worldwide box-office champion.

This much is true: James Cameron is the King of the Box-Office World.

As of this past Tuesday, Cameron is also King of the Oscars, with nine nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. As it happens, Cameron's ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, is Queen of the Oscars. Her THE HURT LOCKER has also received nine Oscar nods, including Best Picture and Best Director. Oscar night shapes up as The War of the ex-Camerons.

On Monday afternoon, January 25, 2010, Twentieth Century-Fox confirmed that James Cameron's TITANTIC's more than 12-year reign as the Number One Box-Office Attraction of All Time had ended, bested by James Cameron's AVATAR. There's no denying, at the motion picture box-office, as well as at the Oscars, everything's coming up Cameron!

The fiscal facts
Long Live the King!

Long Live the King!
notwithstanding, some Match-Flickers are screaming: "Not so fast!" They point out that the average movie ticket price has skyrocketed in the twelve years since TITANIC's release. Back then, the National Association of Theatre Owners claim that the average ticket price was a mere $4.59. Eight weeks ago, when AVATAR was released, the average motion picture ticket cost was $7.18. That's way more than a 50% increase.

Others are yelling "Foul!" because the lion's share of AVATAR's domestic business has been on 3D screens and those venues charge substantially more than the average ticket price. And then there's AVATAR's IMAX 3D edition, where the single ticket price can be as high as $18.50, more than twice the cost of the national average price.

Yet others refuse to accept AVATAR's Number One status because its numbers haven't been adjusted for inflation. This inflation brand of box-office naysayer asserts that 1939's GONE WITH THE WIND remains the All-Time Worldwide Box-Office
James Cameron is positioned for Oscar and a sequel.

James Cameron is positioned for Oscar and a sequel.
Champion. According to these people, the $400 million worldwide, earned by GWTW 70 years ago, adjusted for inflation, would be more than $4 billion.

For all who would tarnish AVATAR's shiny new box-office crown, I have three little words, "Deal with it!" The box-office record keepers are not concerned with ticket prices at the time of a motion picture's release; nor do they care whether or not the flick's gross was generated on pricey 3D or IMAX screens. They certainly don't cotton to inflation adjustments.

The aforementioned matters not to the record keepers. They label those gripes and quibbles "fuzzy math." Quite simply, AVATAR is the Number One Box-office Attraction of All-Time.

AVATAR's preeminence is all the sweeter to the King of the Box-Office World because, unlike TITANIC, the new record-holder begs for a sequel, and, when Match-Flickers beg, Hollywood answers, "Yes!"

Director James Cameron is on record as saying, "It would be stupid not to make AVATAR 2." We
Sam Worthington will reprise his role.

Sam Worthington will reprise his role.
expect that the sequel will have a somewhat more creative, original title. He points out that most of the money that went into developing the first film will not have to be spent again, because many of the environments and effects have already been built. Apparently many of the technical crew members have already signed on the dotted, digital line for the second installment.

What's more, AVATAR star, Sam Worthington has already signed to reprise his role as Jake Sully.

The only cloud on the AVATAR horizon is the fact that this sequel won't reach a theater near you until 2013. That is, if there is a 2013. According to another recent Hollywood hit, the world will end in 2012. James Cameron is currently in pre-production for a 2011 release, BATTLE ANGEL, a 26th Century foxy tale of a female cyborg who's rescued from the scrapheap by a scientist.

Right now, AVATAR rules - and James Cameron is making room on his mantle for the Oscar's his landmark achievement will undoubtedly win on Sunday, March 7.

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The Business of Show
Every other Friday

Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.


Other Columns
Other columns by Christopher Stone:

The Cautionary Box-Office

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up. Part Two

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up, Part 1

Quality Is Independent

Oh, the Horror!

All Columns


Christopher Stone
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.

He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.


Contact
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christopher Stone by clicking here.


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