By DAVID GERMAIN
LOS ANGELES — James Cameron’s science-fiction epic “Avatar” had another stellar weekend with $68.3 million domestically, shooting past $1 billion worldwide, only the fifth movie ever to hit that mark.
No. 1 for the third-straight weekend, 20th Century Fox’s “Avatar” raised its domestic total to $352.1 million after just 17 days. The film added $133 million overseas to lift its international haul to $670 million, for a worldwide gross of $1.02 billion.
“Avatar” opened two weekends earlier with $77 million, a strong start but far below dozens of other blockbusters that debuted as high as $158 million. But business for other blockbusters usually tumbles in following weekends, while “Avatar” revenues barely dropped over the busy Christmas and New Year’s weekends.
“It’s like a runaway freight train. It just keeps doing business,” said Fox distribution executive Bert Livingston. “Here’s what’s happening: I think everybody has to see ‘Avatar’ once. Even people who don’t normally go to the movies, they’ve heard about it and are saying, ‘I have to see it.’ Then there’s those people seeing it multiple times.”
“Avatar” was Cameron’s first film since 1997’s “Titanic,” the biggest modern blockbuster with $1.8 billion worldwide.
Cameron now is the only filmmaker to direct two movies that have topped $1 billion. Along with “Titanic,” the others are “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at $1.13 billion, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” at $1.06 billion and “The Dark Knight” at a fraction over $1 billion, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
With “Avatar” closing in on No. 2 film “The Return of the King,” Cameron is in striking distance of having the two top-grossing movies globally.
“Avatar” has had a price advantage over those other billion-dollar movies. About 75 percent of its domestic business has come from theaters showing it in digital 3-D presentation, those tickets typically costing a few dollars more than admissions for the 2-D version.
By DAVID GERMAIN
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