“It's official: Avatar is highest earning film of all-time.” Really? Well, no, it isn’t. Not by a long chalk. Despite all the breathless reporting around the place about what amounts to a lame melodrama with some extra-special special effects, the breathless reporting about box office “victory” is neither “official,” nor correct. John Drinnan in the Business Herald does the fact-checking other so-called journos should have:
“Movie box office websites have been charting the box office triumph of James Cameron's Avatar, saying it is closing in on Titanic as the highest-grossing movie of all time.
“It is tempting to think that movies are becoming more and more popular, but the fact is that the box office figures reflect sales revenue, not the number of people who are attending.
“And sales revenue does not take account of increases in ticket prices. This is relevant for Avatar, which is in 3D with consequently higher ticket prices.”
Still and all, it did get people to shell out that extra sum to put their bums on theatre-owners’ seats. Nonetheless . . .
“A list of United States box office takings showed Avatar with a gross of US$558.2 million. When [price] inflation is taken into account, this makes it only the 26th biggest earner.
“According to the Box Office Mojo report, adjusted for inflation the biggest movie is [still] 1939's Gone With the Wind. It has taken US$198.7 million - which translates to US$1.51 billion today. In second place is Star Wars, which took US$461 million adjusted to US$1.33 billion.
“Gone With the Wind is also in the top spot for attendance, with 206.4 million tickets sold, 9.4 million more than for second-place holder Star Wars.
“That brings Avatar down to earth with 60.3 million ticket sales, putting it 53rd behind the 1955 movie Lady and the Tramp.”