Why Avatar isn’t as successful as you think

According to various news stories today, Avatar, James Cameron’s 3-D film about blue people, is now the highest-grossing film of all time, having taken $1,842,981,692 at box offices worldwide.

In fact, Titanic is still the most popular film of all time. Approximately 59m people have seen Avatar in the US, compared to 138m who sat through the bum-numbingly dull Titanic.

The reason Avatar has overtaken Titanic in box-office revenue is because, being a 3-D film, tickets are sold at a premium. 72% of Avatar‘s box office revenue comes from the sale of tickets to see the 3-D version of the film. These tickets are around $3 more expensive in America, and around £1.50 more in the UK, than standard cinema tickets.

Even without deducting Avatar‘s extra 3-D revenue, it isn’t the highest-grossing film of all time. If you take the films of the last 100 years and adjust their box-office revenue to take into account inflation, Gone with the Wind is the highest-grossing film of all time. Its US box office gross of $1.485bn compares to Avatar‘s US gross of $552.8m.

But it is still early days for Avatar