What’s helping fuel Avatar’s box office success? Clue: They’re plastic and cover your eyes.
Twentieth Century Fox executives insist they were surprised to break box office records with Avatar. ”This isn’t a Twilight, where you have this built-in rabid fan base,” says Chris Aronson, senior VP of distribution at Fox. ”This has no source material that’s familiar to anyone. Then throw in a running time of two hours and 40 minutes. It was never designed to beat the opening of Picture A or be the biggest this or that.” Well, James Cameron’s sci-fi adventure has become a record breaker after all. Dipping just 2 percent from its first-weekend take of $77 million, Avatar’s sophomore session of $75.6 million makes it the highest-grossing second weekend of all time, beating out The Dark Knight’s $75.2 million. Helping those blue guys rake in the cash (aside from overwhelmingly positive word of mouth): An estimated 75 percent of Avatar’s total worldwide gross is from 3-D or IMAX tickets, which include a surcharge of anywhere between three and six dollars. (The cost of a 3-D IMAX seat at Manhattan’s AMC Loews Lincoln Square theater? A wallet-draining $18.50.) All the three-dimensional excitement certainly bodes well for 2010 3-D releases like Shrek Forever After and Alice in Wonderland. But does it also give Avatar an unfair advantage over 2-D flicks? By our quick math, at least $150 million of Avatar’s overall $620 million worldwide take is from 3-D upcharges. Though Aronson says the studio doesn’t set ticket prices, Fox does receive a portion of all the grosses, extra charges included. ”I could understand people saying, ‘That’s not fair, you’re charging more per ticket,”’ says Hollywood.com Box Office president Paul Dergarabedian. ”But that’s what people are willing to pay to have that experience.” Silly-looking plastic glasses be damned.
— Dave Karger, with additional reporting by Keith Staskiewicz
Tyra eliminates her own talk show
Just like her role model Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks has set an end date for her Emmy-winning talk show. After five seasons, The Tyra Show will shut down this spring. For the 2010-11 season, The CW will air repeats of the show’s most memorable episodes. (Fair enough — we’d watch the one where she reveals her real hair over and over.) Don’t blame ratings for the decision: Tyra, which moved from syndication to The CW in September, is actually up 16 percent from last year. Instead, Banks wants to focus more on Bankable Studios, the production arm of her ever-growing brand. The executive producer of America’s Next Top Model told EW in 2008 that she loved being behind the camera. Said Banks, ”I get jittery inside creating new talent.”
— Tim Stack