So for a long time, I’ve wondered. How did James Cameron’s Avatar make so much money? Right now it sits atop the pedestal as the highest grossing film in cinematic history, and it obviously couldn’t have earned that moniker by being mediocre right? Well…kinda. Today I’m going to be running down just how James Cameron was able to pull off this spectacle, and I’m sure there are some things in here that might surprise you!
I think we can all agree that Avatar was, and in a lot of respects still is, an absolutely gorgeous film. At the time of its release, nothing could compare to the beauty and the life that the film brought to the screen. People couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful and gorgeous the film was, and they told everyone they knew after they had gone to see the film. That directly resulted in more than one viewing with friends and family to see this spectacle one more time. Those repeated viewings add up in ticket sales, and creates a more profitable film if the average moviegoer would want to see it twice, or even three times. The gorgeousness of the film captivated viewers into wanting to see it again and again, but that’s not the sole reason that the film did as well as it did. With repeated viewings, the ticket sales go up, but what is the only thing better than more ticket sales? More expensive ticket sales.
Its Projection with 3D & Imax
Like I said, the only thing better than more ticket sales, is more expensive ticket sales. This film did everything right in the way of marketing. They made the public believe that they had to see it in either Imax or 3D to get the full effect. Because of this, the opening weekend of the film was subpar at best due to the fact that not everyone wanted to pay for an overpriced 3D or Imax ticket, but because of the gorgeousness of the film that people loved, word of mouth spread that this was a ‘must-see’ movie. This was the definition of a slow-build, as people convinced others to pay the extra money to see the film as it was intended, and people fell in love with the graphical ingenuity of the film. Due to these conditions, a snowball effect was created and the film kept seeing hype from word-of-mouth and that the extra money for the 3D or Imax ticket was worth it. Eventually, so many people bought the 3D or Imax tickets that Avatar reached an incredible amount of money at the box office. So in turn, it wasn’t necessarily the amount of tickets sold that put Avatar over, it was the price of the ticket.
The Downturn of 3D & Imax
So if a movie can exploit the price of tickets once to get on top, surely they can do it again right? Well…it’s not so simple. When Avatar was first released, the technology of 3D and Imax were still relatively new and exciting. People wanted to see films in these conditions because they felt that these conditions enhanced the cinematic experience. Now, people seem to think the complete opposite way. Many film critics pan the effects of 3D and Imax as they feel that they take away from the cinematic experience rather than add to it. Just in the last 5 years, the amount of people buying 3D & Imax tickets have dropped by 6%, which is a huge number when you’re talking about a subject like this. With a 6% drop in people buying those gimmick tickets, that means that there will be no way for another film to make the kind of profit that Avatar did, strictly because they aren’t buying as many tickets. This is why Avatar’s box office record may never be broken.
What Can Possibly Break the Record?
There is literally only thing that can break the record of Avatar, and that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As Avengers: Infinity War climbs up the ranks of the highest grossing films of all time, we can see the domination that it has put on display at the box office, even without those extra 3D/Imax ticket sales. Avengers: Infinity War, at the time of this writing, is just coming out of its 3rd weekend box office, and is getting ever closer to the #1 spot at $1.6 billion. With the biggest opening weekend in cinematic history and a plethora of fans still behind it, Infinity War has all the potential in the world to dethrone Avatar without the use of some cheap gimmick and technicality. Even if Infinity War doesn’t do it, Avengers 4 is the next biggest threat, as that will conclude the entirety of the MCU up to that point. The next two Avengers films will be the biggest threat that Avatar has ever seen, so let’s see if they can top it.
What do you think about Avatar’s stint at the top of the food chain? Let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and Follow The Bandicoot Banter via E-mail!