This morning, the blogosphere was rightfully up in arms over the reported cost of James Cameron’s 3-D live-action epic, Avatar, which Time said was north of $300 million. It turns out, the movie’s not nearly as expensive: it’s currently budgeted at more than $200 million, which puts it in relatively the same ballpark as Cameron’s last major film, Titanic, which luckily made all of its money back thanks to being the highest-grossing film of all time.
$200 million seems like a lot, but it’s not in this day and age of movie making. Both Superman Returns ($270 million) and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($300 million) were more expensive, and they likely made their money back. But Pirates was a massive, worldwide hit, whereas Superman barely recouped (thank goodness for DVD and pay-TV sales). What are the odds, then, that Avatar will make the roughly $500 million worldwide necessary to break even? Apparently, they’re pretty good. 63 movies, including older titles like Ghost and Aladdin, have all topped the $500 million mark internationally.
Incidentally, only 27 films have made the $750 million worldwide Avatar would have had to surpass to recoup its $300 million budget. So, Fox better hope Cameron doesn’t decide to invent any more pioneering 3-D technologies or find other ways to escalate costs before the film’s December release.
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