“Avatar” director James Cameron once posited the notion that movie ticket prices should be reflective of how much each individual movie cost to produce. Movies that cost a lot – like his – would cost more to attend. And “Paranormal Activity” would cost five cents.
With “Avatar,” Cameron has gone a long way to realizing that idea. The movie is only a week or two away from becoming the top-grossing movie of all time both here in America and globally, topping the director’s own “Titanic”. And one of the reasons why “Avatar” is making so much money, and making it in record time, is because seeing “Avatar” costs more than seeing your average film.
If you want to see “Avatar” as it was meant to be seen, you need to see it in 3D and on an IMAX screen. In some areas, that means paying as much as $16.50 for a single adult ticket. And maybe you have one of those theaters in your town that charges an extra premium on top of that to serve you booze and filter out children, an idea I always support. That could make your ticket price go even higher.
No one ever paid $16.50 to see “Titanic,” that’s for sure. In fact, adjusted for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo, “Avatar” is only the 26th highest grossing film of all time. In terms of the pure number of tickets sold (and those totals are elusive), “Avatar” is certainly not the most widely seen movie of all time. Not yet, at least.
But here’s why it deserves to be crowned #1 anyway. These supposed corrected box office totals don’t account for the fact that people were willing to pay more to see “Avatar.” That needs to count for something, because “Avatar” has taken advantage of film technology the way no other movie ever has, and people are falling over themselves to pay a premium for it.
We live in a world where the price of most entertainment has fallen down to nothing. Music and movies are continually pirated online, and eBooks are poised to turn every book you buy into a $10 or less exchange. The fact that “Avatar” is going against the grain, by getting more people to pay more money for something they usually get at a lower price, is a huge tribute to what Cameron has done. And that’s why, when “Avatar” becomes the #1 movie of all time a few days from now, it will have more than earned that crown.