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‘Avatar’ re-release shows franchise’s strength overseas

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Source: Walt Disney Studios.

Disney is expected to generate $30 million in worldwide ticket sales from the 2009 theatrical re-release of Avatar.

While domestic ticket sales, which are predicted to hit $10 million, are in line with analysts’ forecasts, box office analysts are alarmed internationally at $20 million.

The 20th Century Studio re-release of the film was a litmus test of sorts for whether audiences still want to visit the environmentally conscious sci-fi world created by James Cameron. Avatar: The Way of Water, the first of four sequels to the original film, is due out in December.

“This weekend’s results are solid given the film’s exclusive 3D performance and should bode well for a much larger sequel release in December,” said Sean Robbins, Chief Media Analyst at BoxOffice.com.

Audience interest in Avatar clearly still exists, box office analysts agreed after seeing Sunday’s predictions. However, the question of whether this interest will be reflected in December ticket sales, especially 3D screenings, is still up in the air.

“However, there are still questions that need to be answered,” Robbins said. “We can’t say with certainty that audience turnout has served as a sufficient litmus test for exclusive 3D releases, given how re-releases have generally performed in recent years.”

Robbins noted that it could be important for Disney to offer a variety of screen options, including 2D on premium screens like IMAX, along with promoting 3D. Although there was a small window after the initial release of Avatar when audiences strongly gravitated towards the 3D show, this has shrunk over the past decade.

However, internationally, this will not be such a big problem. 3D remains exceptionally popular in overseas markets, especially in China. And it’s important to remember that Avatar made most of its money outside of the US – a whopping $2.08 billion.

A doubling of ticket sales internationally compared to domestic tally signals that viewers who keep Avatar at the top of the box office are likely to return to The Waterway.

“It’s impressive that there’s still great viewership for the Avatar franchise on the big screen,” said Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at Comscore. “The $20.5 million earned this weekend internationally makes a strong case for the new film’s massive worldwide debut in December.”


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