Avatar has passed yet another milestone. Last week it passed Titanic to become the highest grossing movie of all time–Titanic had about $1.84 billion in sales). As of today, it is the first movie to gross $2 billion dollars around the world, taking in an estimated $2,039,222,000 through the weekend. More importantly, the movie shows no signs of slowing.
Interestingly, I saw an article on The Hollywood Reporter, saying Avatar is actually the #26 highest movie if we dismiss box office gross and instead count ticket sales. Under that model, Gone with the Wind and Star Wars are the most popular movies of all time, followed by The Sound of Music and E.T. The Extraterrestrial. My thoughts on counting ticket sales instead of dollars grossed and the misleading nature of this article are after the jump.
It is true that Avatar‘s box office pull is artificially enhanced by the higher ticket price of 3D movies and, well, inflation. In almost every other medium, including video games and television shows, the number of people who actually purchase and/or watch your product are counted, not the dollars they bring in.
I’d love it if we moved to this system, but THR’s numbers are misleading. First, they are only domestic ticket sales. I cannot find an accurate count of worldwide ticket sales. Avatar might rank higher on such a list. Second, many of these films have seen multiple releases throughout the years, and it’s hard to say how accurately tickets were counted in the 1930s when Gone with the Wind hit theaters.
In any case, it’ll be interesting to see where Avatar finally ends up. Movies this popular don’t come around very often. If nothing else, we can probably agree that there are going to be too many people dressed as Na’vi next Halloween.