James Cameron’s Avatar Posts Record Opening Weekend Box Office Results in IMAX® Theatres

December 21, 2009 – 11:40 am

Highlights Include:

  • Largest domestic opening weekend of $9.5 million

  • Largest international opening weekend of an estimated $4.1 million
  • Exhibitors are adding extra IMAX shows to meet demand
  • IMAX theatres were in 18 of the top 20 locations nationwide

IMAX Corporation (Nasdaq:IMAX) (TSX:IMX) and Twentieth Century Fox today announced that James Cameron’s Avatar grossed a record breaking $9.5 million from 178 IMAX® theatres domestically from December 18 through December 20, 2009, registering approximately 13% of the film’s total domestic gross of $73 million on less than 3% of the screens. IMAX theatres were operating at virtually full capacity all weekend, with many locations adding 3am and 6am shows to meet the high consumer demand. The IMAX release also posted a record international opening, generating an estimated total of approximately $4.1 million from 58 IMAX screens, for a per screen average of approximately $70,500. The film is scheduled to open on 25 additional IMAX screens internationally in the coming weeks, including in Japan and China. The worldwide IMAX opening weekend box office total is estimated to be $13.6 million as of the end of day Sunday, December 20, 2009.

Avatar is directed and written by Academy Award Winner James Cameron and stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver. Avatar has been digitally re-mastered into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience®.

“The weekend was a huge success, and we’re particularly pleased with the strong performance from IMAX theatres, which reported long lines and virtual sell outs around the clock beginning with the first midnight show on Thursday,” said Bruce Snyder, President, Domestic Distribution, Twentieth Century Fox. “We’re looking forward to continued success through the holidays and into January with these IMAX® 3D locations.”

“The only way to significantly top this weekend’s performance of the international IMAX network would be to add more seats,” added Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus, Co-Presidents, International Distribution, Twentieth Century Fox. “With another 25 IMAX theatres scheduled to open the film over the next couple of weeks, we’re anticipating strong legs from the IMAX release.”

“The worldwide IMAX network was operating at near full capacity throughout the entire weekend,” said IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond. “This success is a testament to the groundbreaking work of James Cameron and his team, who have raised the bar for storytelling and truly transported us into another world.”

“From the very beginning, James Cameron considered how the film would look and feel in IMAX, and as a result, Jim, Jon Landau and the Lightstorm team have produced a spectacular film that moviegoers are clearly reacting to with enthusiasm and strong word of mouth,” added Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment. “Cameron’s incredible vision and passion for pushing the technological boundaries of filmmaking, combined with a superb marketing and distribution campaign from Twentieth Century Fox has created an epic release that we are very proud to be a part of. We look forward to transporting more moviegoers to Pandora via The IMAX 3D Experience in the weeks ahead.”

Avatar is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people. More than ten years in the making, Avatar marks Cameron’s return to feature directing since helming 1997’s Titanic, the highest grossing film of all time and winner of eleven Oscars® including Best Picture. WETA Digital, renowned for its work in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and King Kong, will incorporate new intuitive CGI technologies to transform the environments and characters into photorealistic 3D imagery that will transport the audience into the alien world rich with imaginative vistas, creatures and characters.

Press Release >>

UPDATE: Coverage on Avatar‘s IMAX box office weekend:

Associated Press: Avatar pulls in $9.5 million on IMAX screens

Davidson County Headlines Examiner: Avatar box office results: $232 million bankroll expected from Avatar

Bloomberg: ‘Avatar’ Opens With $77 Million to Set Record for 3-D

ComingSoon.net: Avatar Soars Despite Heavy Snowstorms | Avatar Adds $16.4 Million on Monday! | RealD Delivers Over 50% of Domestic Avatar Gross | Avatar Pockets Another $16 Million Tuesday!

Financial Times: Avatar takes $242m globally in first weekend

3DGuy: AVATAR Breaks IMAX Record.

Variety: ‘Avatar’s’ final tally bigger than expected

The Motley Fool: Can Cameron Terminate Hollywood’s Troubles?