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By the numbers — 129-31

Honestly, I wasn’t gonna write one this week because it’s the same as the past six weeks: #1 is Avatar with roughly $30+ million, then two new releases, then the holdovers, and then the Blindside clinging for dear life at the bottom of the top 12.

Until I mentally stumbled upon an interesting tidbit. Worldwide–which includes both domestic and foreign cumulations–Avatar eclipsed the $2 billion dollar mark. Impressive by any rate, but get this (and this is what got me to post tonight): Last year, domestically, Paramount Pictures slate of 16 films including Transformers 2 and GI Joe, grossed $1.4 billion dollars. There’s really no link, I guess, but I think it’s ridiculous that a single movie has taken over the world to net more than 16 movies have made domestically. That boggles my mind, honestly. The only studio that netted more than Avatar’s worldwide gross last year was WB with around $2.1 billion and, fuck, let’s face it: Avatar’s still got some steam in its tank. It’s weekend by weekend drops have been, respectively, 1.8%, 9.4%, 26.6% (68 mill to 50 mill, still a good haul), 14.9%, 18.3%, and 14.1%. That’s ridiculous–I’m used to seeing drops of between 35-50 percent 2nd to 3rd weekend, and then a steady & steep decline thereafter. But Avatar, instead, has instead been lazily traipsing down that one really fucked up handicap ramp that weaves around about ten times before getting to its destination. In short, it’s basically making good money and will probably continue to do so for at least another two weeks. Especially next weekend when Dear John and From Paris with Love come out–two movies that, let’s face it, don’t look to be displacing Avatar atop all the charts.

This brings me to my next point, I guess: I had always looked at Titanic’s records as sort of unbreakable. In baseball terms, they’d be Bob Gibson’s season ERA mark of 1.12 (though, technically, a modern era record but whatever) or Moral Orel Hershiser’s markĀ  of 59 consecutive scoreless innings. In sports, it’d be a rare feat to do the same thing twice–to beat your own unbeatable records–but in film, it’s might be even rarer. The fickleness of the market and the ability of both the artist, the collaborator, and the marketing team to tap into the collective social psyches of not only a single age group but all of them is an absolute marvel. James Cameron may not be the greatest filmmaker who ever lived, but, goddam does he have his finger on the pulse across two separate generations. Seriously, the last movie he released was an untouchable record–until his next movie was released. Every other movie was supposed to fall short, it seems. No movie was supposed to have its spectacle and its charm and its connection to an audience. But, of co9urse, James Cameron had to find a way. Of course he had to find a way. He seems to be the type of prick that constantly needs to outdo everyone else. He can’t just have the #1 movie of all time. He has to have both #1 and #2!

Anyway, I digress.

The two new releases this week, Edge of Darkness and When in Rome, debuted in #2 and 3 with $17 million and $13 million, respectively. The Book of Eli fell 44% (see, something normal), and Legion just kind of got exhausted and laid down to die with only 6.8 million.

Within the next few days (probably Tuesday), expect two things: Avatar becomes King of the Motherfucking Universe, and Sherlock Holmes will eke across the $200 million mark.

On Feb. 2nd, the Oscar announcement will go down. The best picture nominees will probably experience something similar to the “Colbert Bump.”

Enjoy your week.

By the Numbers, Jan. 8-10

Avatar continued its run at number 1 with 48 million dollars, and Sherlock Holmes & Alvin and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The Squeakquel continued their respective runs at Nos. 2 and 3 with numbers in the $16 million range.

This means that, once again, Avatar eclipsed its competition by over $20 million for the second straight week. I find this fascinating, honestly. I was expecting it to have died down by now–but, instead, it now holds the record (by a long shot) for the highest grossing fourth weekend ever (which, also, is the first record its beaten out Titanic for). Unlike most here and gone blockbusters like Transformers 2 or the first two entries into the Twilight saga, this thing seems to have some staying power.

The highest grossing new release was Daybreakers, fighting for #4 with $15 million. Youth in Revolt, a movie which I really want to see, was #9. Somehow, Leap Year made just over $9 million.

The other interesting thing to note was that the Blindside seems to finally be receding. It had a 34% drop this past weekend after pretty much holding steady at No. 5 for the past few weeks.

It’ll be interesting to see where the Book of Eli slots in next week. My guess is that it will probably clock in at #2 or 3, behind Avatar and, maybe, Sherlock Holmes or Daybreakers–the latter is a movie I see gaining ground by word of mouth. It’ll also be interesting to see on what day Avatar finally cracks the $500 million mark and stands as No. 3 on the All-Time list (unadjusted).

Most everything else was negligible in that “typical business” kind of way.

By the Numbers, Jan 1st-3rd

Hoo-boy. Avatar sure did flex its nut this weekend bringing in 68 million in its third weekend–a number that topped the previous 3rd weekend record holder (Spiderman #1) by over $20 million (The Dark Knight made just shy of $43 million during its third weekend).

That means that it eclipsed the $300 million mark on Friday and then eclipsed $350 million by Sunday. At the theater I work at, we’ve gone 45 (might even be as high as 48 including today which I am not working) straight showings of Avatar in 3d that have sold out. A lot of people have been telling me that they saw it in 2D and then went back to see it in 3D. For a 3 hour movie with Marxist tendencies, that’s saying something.

The other two in the top three were no surprises: Sherlock at #2 with $38 million (no small feat in and of itself) and The (Motherfucking) Squeakquel at #3 with just over $36 million.

Now let’s pause here: Avatar made $30 million more than the #2 film. Yet the #2 and #3 films were still able to haul in over $30 million? Even adjusted for inflation, that’s a fuckton of tickets sold.

It’s Complicated was #4.

The Blindside was #5, and this surprises me. The longevity that this film has shown has been a surprise to a lot of people. When it was first was released we sold out damn near every showing of it and, even now in a smaller theater, we’re still pulling very good numbers for it. People love white paternalism, I guess–though, for the record, that whole issue is handled rather well and the football scenes in the film are some of the best I’ve seen.It actually rose 10% over its grosses for the previous weekend.

#6 was Up in the Air, this years master(Oscar)bait. It seems to be holding up well in the way that a lot of built-for-awards films do: by middling around the top six by word of mouth and the strength of the lead actor who is taking some kind of risk.

The rest were #7: The Princess and the Frog (chugging towards 100 mill), #8 Did you Hear about the Morgans (oof.), #9 was, well, Nine, and #10 was Invictus.

Numbers from Box Office Mojo.

I wonder what Avatar is going to do next weekend other than beat out Transformers 2 for the top movie of the year.

Avatar

The second movie in a year that has caused me to write about it, Avatar is fairly straightforward. Dances with Wolves in Space. That’s how I’ve heard it. Dances with Smurfs. What have you.

And yet… it’s so much more than that because most other films about noble savages are not so beautifully done or so scientifically driven.

Sam Worthington (whose American accent slips from time to time–it’s like a drinking game.) plays an ex-marine who goes to Pandora in place of his dead brother. Because of the heavy religious emphasis of the Na’vi, nothing is coincidence by the end of the film.

Sully is the first non-scientist to inhabit an Avatar and, as a result, he is the first to be accepted into the Na’vi clan. He was going to die but Zoe Saldana’s non-Avatar Na’vi was touched by the presence of a seed from the Tree of Souls.

On paper, this is the cheesiest, most hackneyed film you’ll ever see get clearance for a $300 million budget.

But, on screen, it is an experience to be rivaled. And this experience is something that, in the theater, is marveled. However, what I am leary of is this film’s ability to play on, say, my 27″ CRT television with 1″ speakers. Will it carry the same weight? Will it look as cool?

The latter, probably not. There is no way you can take in all the visuals on anything smaller than a theatrical screen. The colors of Pandora, and the way that everything visually interacts with one another is something that should be seen on the biggest screen one can find. The scene that sticks out in my mind, and keeps sticking out, is watching Sully and Saldana’s character run through Pandora at night along a log high above the ground that lights up a neon green with each step like nature’s private disco floor.

Many things have been and will be said about the film’s visuals. And all the praise is absolutely earned. And so has the criticism wrt story. See, in spite of the movie’s awe-inspiring beauty and organic message, there are still several moments that teeter on the edge of pulling one out of the movie in favor of snickers and “zOMG did you see…” twitters.

But it never quite falls out over the edge of unequivocally shitty. It merely peaks at the edge and says something like, “No I mustn’t.” and then goes back to being fairly strong and supported by even better visuals.

Though my favorite part of the film wasn’t the 3d or the story or even the entire ecosystem that Cameron admirably built from the ground up. No, I’m pretty sure my favorite element of the film is James Horner’s score. There is a man who knows the majesty of the french horn and the perfect musical phrase for a scene–without the whimsy of John Williams. Without such a powerful score, some of the emotional impact of the visuals would be immediately lost. His score adds a certain weight to every scene and it’s something that, for me, elevated this film from good to great to greater.

This is not my favorite movie of the year because of the problems stated above–about how all of the experience will be extricated once it eventually falls out of theaters and hits home video. It really seems like this film, unless home 3d technology gets better, will suffer once it hits home video. People will watch it again, with manic dreams of how it was in 3d in the 600 seat, 20-odd speaker theater, and then be completely let down by the flatness.

It’s possible, but maybe not. Only time will tell. For now, I’m pretty sure Up remains at the top of the year for new releases.