Well, James Cameron’s Avatar posted a midnight haul of $3.537 million and a $27 million opening day on Friday. Despite weekend winter storms that slowed its momentum a bit, it still made $73 million for the second highest December opening weekend of all time. It is also Cameron’s best open of all time.

Not a bad start. But is it, considering this movie cost something like $500 million to make?! I Am Legend still holds the December opening record at $77 million. The studio better hope the buzz for the the movie is as positive as the executives over there are bragging it is, so it can keep on raking in the dough to pay the bills. I read some report on Nikki Finke’s website quoting some exec on the “viral” positive word of mouth. Maybe it is, yet the reaction I hear from a lot of people is “Aaargh! The 3D effects made me dizzy in there!!” I’ve been reading quite a few stories about this. This could be another Cloverfield effect: Cloverfield was a movie which gave people vertigo from the shaky cam cinematography. The Bottom line is I’m not so sure that the buzz is quite as positive as the executives claim it to be. Still, the word of mouth is really good. The awards buzz helps, too, with its Golden Globe nominations and likely Oscar nods.

I have said all along that this movie would probably do better over a span of several weeks rather than right out of the gate due to positive buzz, much like what happened with Titanic. Titanic opened at $28 million, and then it kept on making money week in and week out, so much so that it ended up on top of the box office for an unbelievable 15 weekends in a row! I dunno if Avatar is going to be able to do that: the competition from Sherlock and those singing chipmunks is going to be pretty stiff. The next weekend is going to tell the tale. If Avatar finishes with a haul of $50-$60 million, it could be a dominant force at the box office for weeks. But if the haul is $35 million or less, that’s probably the end for Avatar. We’ll see what happens. One thing is certain, though — people want to see this thing in 3D, so the 3D showings are going to be packed for some weeks. That will help the gross because of the high 3D ticket prices. Incidentally, 85 percent of the midnight ticket grosses were from 3D.

As an afterthought, Did You Hear About the Morgans? netted $7 million.

The top ten finished as follows:
1 Avatar Fox $73,000,000
2 The Princess and the Frog BV $12,224,000
3 The Blind Side WB $10,030,000
4 Did You Hear About the Morgans? Sony $7,000,000
5 The Twilight Saga: New Moon Sum. $4,370,000
6 Invictus WB $4,170,000
7 A Christmas Carol (2009) BV $3,419,000
8 Up in the Air Par. $3,100,000
9 Brothers LGF $2,630,000
10 Old Dogs BV $2,289,000

Be ready soon for the Christmas predictions here at the Reject Report, as we preview Alvin and the Chipmunks and the expanded release of Up in the Air. Until then, happy Christmas shopping!


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