'Avatar' Heads Into Weekend Five With Strong Early Ticket Sales

There's a collective holding of breath right now amongst box office analysts and pundits everywhere as James Cameron's sprawling sci-fi flick "Avatar" trundles towards a record-breaking performance as the top-grossing movie of all time. There are still a few records to break on the domestic sales front for "Avatar" to hit #2, but there's really just one more mountain for the movie to climb to ensure it's place as the top-selling movie of all time.


The attention the movie has attracted, that it continues to attract, means we've been watching the numbers very closely these past few weeks. Could it really surpass the $1.8 billion worldwide/$600 million domestic records held for more than a decade by Cameron's ill-fated love story? As we roll into weekend number five, the future is looking mighty bright for the blue Na'vi and their beautiful homeworld of Pandora.

Fandango reports that a staggering 73% of their ticket sales this week have been for "Avatar," and that 85% of the movie's overall ticket sales have been for 3-D screenings. "There's such a myriad of sophisticated CGI effects that fans feel they almost need to see it twice to catch all of the fantastical elements," Fandango spokesman Harry Medved said.

Elsewhere in the world of online ticket retailers, MovieTickets.com reports that "Avatar" accounts for 76% of tickets sold this week. “The fact that Avatar accounts for 76 percent of tickets sold this week more than a month after its release is incredible,” MovieTickets.com Executive VP Walt Borchers said.

"Avatar" currently sits in the #2 spot for worldwide ticket sales, $400 million short of besting the "Titanic" numbers. It's a bit lower down on the domestic charts, at #4 behind "Star Wars," "The Dark Knight" and "Titanic" with $445 million. There's no question that "Avatar" will best "Star Wars"' $460 million this weekend. If the excitement continues into the following week -- very likely, considering the lack of blockbuster competition -- it could also slip past the Batman movie's $533 million.

In the end, 3-D could make the difference. February is host to some sizable releases, including "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," "The Wolfman" and "Shutter Island." None of them are 3-D however; if audiences continue to be taken with Cameron's slick use of the technology, then "Avatar" will have an easy ride into March, when 3-D showings of "Alice in Wonderland" supplant it from many of those screens. By then, "Avatar" will have had ample time to surpass both of those all-time records and secure its place at #1. Even if it doesn't hit that milestone, I believe with 100% certainty that it will at least climb past "The Dark Knight," leaving Cameron movies the #1 and #2 top-grossing movies of all time.

What do you think the chances are of "Avatar" achieving #1 success on both charts?