By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Up & Down The Avatar
This started as an entry only about the second story, below. But on a whim, I clicked on BO Mojo for Monday’s Avatar number, aka Torture For Some Of You.
Second Monday – $19.4m estimate
It’s the #7 Monday of all-time. It’s up from last Monday by 19%, which as you may recall, was a pretty amazing day as well, which we attributed to last weekend’s weather.
The only second Monday that is better is Shrek 2, which was on its way to being the #2 domestic grosser of all time (now #3, behind The Dark Knight as well as Titanic.) Oh yes… and that Monday was Memorial Day.
In fact, the only non-holiday Monday bigger was The Dark Knight‘s fourth day of release. Avatar, which is still $93 million behind TDK’s domestic 11-day gross, did $8.9m more than TDK on their respective Day 11s. Catching up a bit.
Avatar was the 10th fastest film in history to $200 million. If it hits $250m tomorrow or Wednesday, it will be the sixth fastest to $250m. It looks to move up to being fourth fastest grossing film in history by the tine it hits $300m domestic this weekend. It should be #2 all-time by the time it hist $400m.
Still. I’m not sure at all that Avatar will outgross The Dark Knight‘s $533 million domestic. But it will pass TDK’s $470m international number before the New Year’s weekend is over.
Sorry for the torture for those of you who hate this. I do understand that I was not this aggressive about reporting the daily Dark Knight numbers. I probably should have been. But as the above notes, the numbers weren’t that interesting after the first 10 days. Amazingly, Avatar is still growing.
It took a week for Robert J. Elisberg to take a swing at Pete Hammond and Steve Pond over glowing reports about the Avatar screening at The Academy.
Firstly… trying to use Academy screenings to measure how movies are doing with The Academy is a bad, bad idea. Always has been. Always will be. For one thing, there are always a parade of varying interpretations of what happened. I don’t think there has been a movie that’s won Best Picture in recent years that was not said by some to have had a modest to poor response at the Academy screening… as well as someone saying that it was gangbusters.
The only reliable measurement to get from an Academy screening is how many people showed up. This tells you, very quickly, how much work the distributor in question has to do to get other 4500+ voting Academy members to see the movie.
By that measure, Fox had a great screening. And the film’s huge success should get them to something like 50% – 60% of Academy membership seeing the movie in theaters before the next couple of weeks are over. Fox, no doubt, will work hard to get the rest into screenings in the weeks thereafter.
It is one of the mistakes I think Oscar prognosticators make… spending too much time trying to read the group. Sometimes, the answer is bigger than the group. Avatar is one of those movies.
You know when it was clear that Avatar was the movie to beat for Best Picture? Well… the opportunity for it to change the game was there before it screened. It’s a soft year. But then, there was the night of that first look… December 10. (Here is the column I wrote the next day.)
(So ends the self-serving section of this entry.)
In any case, Elisberg seems kinda angry that Pete & Steve heard things went well at that screening. Could it be that he doesn’t much care for the movie?
“I was at that screening. In fact, I was first in line.”
Creepy. An hour early at The Academy. But more important, if Elisberg was first in then he wasn’t there when Academy members were actually turned away… a very rare occurrence. Elisberg acknowledges that the theater was full by showtime, but tries various ways of suggesting that this wasn’t special or at all meaningful. He even uses the capacity audience for Up… which looks to be the second animated film to be nominated for Best Picture in Oscar history… as a negative for Avatar.
“More importantly, from the few people I and friends spoke to afterward, the reaction was absolutely mixed.
Everyone was awed by the otherworldly-spectacular special effects. But for some, the script was a bit ordinary and ultimately somewhat disappointing. Others, though, while acknowledging the script weaknesses, overlooked them and adored the film.”
Well. That’s it then. Mr. Elisberg’s circle of friends and their snap decision defines the film’s Oscar potential. Much better read than Pete or Steve. (that’s sarcasm.)
As I say, I am not in disagreement with Elisberg that the Academy screening is a bad way to read the Oscar future of a film… as is Pete’s “film class” where he screens awards hopefuls. But Pete does get, in a general way, some very interesting reads off of his class and the many, many Q&As he does. In the weeks before nomination, Pete is usually the person most likely to smell a change in the voting class before it happens. This doesn’t mean his guesses are always right. But his thermometer is placed in a good place, particularly late in the nomination season.
I guess what strikes me about Elisberg’s attack is that he is so definitive about his perspective being right when the takes from Pete & Steve, while perhaps a bit hyperbolic, are more in line with stories I have heard from Academy members who were at that screening than Elisberg’s… including from at some who were turned away.
I don’t actually object to Elisberg adding his perspective to this minor event. But perhaps it could be his experience and not mean that Pete & Steve must be shills to repeat what they heard.
In the end, the likelihood that Avatar will win Best Picture is all about it being seen as a game-changer, a successful entertainment for the world, and a massive commercial hit. That and the lack of an alternative that is nearly as muscular.