Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Avatar, the highest grossing movie of all time

James Cameron’s Sci-fi film Avatar has surpassed Titanic to become the highest grossing movie of all time, according to Gregg Brilliant, a spokesman for the film’s distributor, the News Corp-owned 20th Century Fox, with its worldwide takings in just six weeks standing at $1.859 billion beating the $1.843 billion racked up by Cameron's romantic drama Titanic in 1997-1998.

The figures are not adjusted for inflation, the higher cost of Avatar's 3D film tickets, and other decisive factors like ticket price at time of release, inflation, economic conditions, population at time of release, the number of theaters and screens, number of prints, competition of other media like television, internet, home video, and above all the impact of film piracy. According to 20th Century Fox, 72 per cent of worldwide sales came from 3-D version of the film that used the RealD 3D, Dolby 3D, and IMAX 3D formats, and the rest accounting for by the usual 2-D version.

A list of 100 all time highest grossing movies based on estimated tickets sales, US and Canada gross, adjusted for inflation as of March 5, 2009 based on data from shows Avatar at 34th position only while at number three, ‘The Sound of Music’ holds the highest rank for a movie that was released only once, and Shrek (2001) is placed at # 100 in the list. The 10 top-grossing films of all time based on total receipts or tickets sold, with adjustment for inflation are: Gone With The Wind (1939, at #1, ticket sales $202,044,600 adjusted to $1,455,000,000), Star Wars (1977, #2, $178,119,600 adjusted to $1,282,000,000), The Sound of Music (1965, #3, $142,415,400 adjusted to $1,025,000,000), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982, #4, $141,854,300 adjusted to $1,021,000,000), The Ten Commandments (1956, #5, $131,000,000 adjusted to $943,000,000), Titanic (1997, #6, $128,210,000 adjusted to $924,000,000), Jaws (1975, #7, $128,078,800 adjusted to $922,000,000), Doctor Zhivago (1965, #8, $124,135,500 adjusted to $894,000,000), The Exorcist (1973, #9, $110,568,700 adjusted to $796,000,000) and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937, #10, $109,000,000 adjusted to $784,000,000).

As it was more than five years in the making, Avatar was reportedly one of the most expensive films with a budget of at least $300 million, and the marketing costs are estimated at $150 million. Some sources claim the total costs could be about half a billion US dollars, because of the high-tech special effects, the creation of a new language of the aliens, development of 3D viewing and stereoscopic filming with cameras that were specially designed for the film's production. For instance, the work on the language for the film's extraterrestrial Na'vi race began in 2005 and Cameron began developing the script and fictional universe in early 2006. Live action is mixed with digitally-created scenes.

Avatar was conceptualized, written and directed by James Cameron, and produced by Cameron and Jon Landau, starring Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, Wes Studi and Laz Alonso, is set in the year 2154, when humans are engaged in mining a precious mineral called unobtanium and other natural resources on the fictional lush moon called Pandora of the Alpha Centauri star system. The human colonial invasion threatens the existence of the Na'vi, a race of giant blue alien humanoids who are 10 foot (3 meter) tall, inhabiting Pandora, and its ecosystem.

The Chinese seem to be more excited about Avatar. The China Daily reported that the ‘Southern Sky Column’, a mountain in Zhangjiajie located in Hunan province, had been renamed ‘Avatar Hallelujah Mountain’ in honor of the film. According to Dylan Cole, the production designer of Avatar, the Hallelujah Mountains seen in the film were inspired by Mount Huang (Huangshan) and the mountains of the Hunan province, among others around the world. Director Cameron had noted the influence of the Chinese peaks on the design of the floating rocks, saying at a December 2009 press conference in Beijing, "all we had to do was simply recreate Huangshan Mountain in outer space."

Remarkably James Cameron holds the distinction of directing both the world's top grossing movies, Avatar and Titanic, which starred Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio that set many records in 1997-1998, eventually won for Cameron an Oscar for the best director.

Avatar became a worldwide sensation and became a cult film among movie-enthusiasts, especially the younger generation and dominated the box offices in countries like United States, Canada, France, Germany, Britain, Australia, Russia and China.

Avatar has already won many awards and honors from many film critics’ and film professional associations. The film was honored with awards, or nominated, in categories such as Best Picture, Best Action Film, Best Visual Effects, Most Original, Innovative or Creative Film, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Art Direction, Film of the Year, Director of the Year, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Director, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, etc. In December 2009, the American Film Institute recognized the film and Cameron's advances in CGI effects with their yearly ‘AFI Moments of Significance’ award claiming it ‘will have profound effects on the future of the art form.’

The film also picked up four nominations for the 67th Golden Globe Awards, winning two Golden Globes last week for Best Motion Picture -- Drama, and Best Director. The film has also been nominated by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) for eight categories, including Best Film, Director, Music, Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Sound and Special Visual Effects.

After conquering the global box office and winning universal praise, Avatar is a strong contender for the Best Picture at the 82nd Academy Awards and also expected to dominate the technical categories. According to awards pundit Tom O'Neil at, Avatar is ‘not just a sure bet for a best picture Academy Award nomination on February 2, but a leading contender to win the top Oscar on March 7’. O'Neil told Reuters, "It is the Oscar front-runner… The only cliffhanger is, will the notorious snobs in the Academy finally appreciate sci-fi?" He noted that a science fiction movie has never won a best picture Oscar.

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