“Avatar” Price Tag Hits $500 Million

The New York Times just did an article claiming that the new James Cameron film “Avatar” is going to hit a $500 million dollar price tag once production and marketing costs are all totaled.

If accurate, that means Avatar will have to make about $750 million at the box office just to break even… and I’m sorry… but that’s NOT going to happen.

Despite all the online buzz for Avatar, the fact of the matter is this film is not going to out perform Transformers 2 at the Box Office.

I’ve got to say that the newer trailers for Avatar have looked a LOT better to me than the first one that came out months ago (which I didn’t like all that much). I’m very pumped to see this movie… but wow… that’s quite a price tag, and I don’t see them breaking even on it at all.

What do you guys think?

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92 thoughts on ““Avatar” Price Tag Hits $500 Million

  1. Wowsers. Just counting domestic, it’s now at $749.7 million. Just $299000 more to go…

    I have to admit, $750 million domestic is way beyond what I was expecting too. I was expecting way less than $500 million domestic.

    1. That’s kind of what I was saying dude. Note that I posted on Dec 26, after it was obvious that Avatar was going to make it and then some.

      So for clarification, my question was intended to be rhetorical. The obvious answer being that Avatar was surly going to recap it’s budget and then some.

  2. Sounds like “Waterworld” danger territory..

    but then again that was crap and this is CAMERON.

    Have faith non-believers! If a total Piece of shit director like Micheal Bay can churn out a blockbuster effect-extravaganza, then Cameron will have him licking his balls!

    Price tags getting scary but this is one flick that will get people glued to there seats IN THE THEATRE and will have all of us talking.. remember that excitement? talking about how you were wowed beyond belief….all cause a movie got you excited? been a long time since this REALLY happened.. Like StarWARS or Jurassic Park or Raiders of the lost arc…. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE EVENTFULL MOTION PICTURES..

  3. Isn’t the lack of 3D-screens a huge huge problem for this film to break a billion dollars at the box office?

    Here in Stockholm, Sweden, we only have one or two 3D-screens, which will make it difficult to satisfy the demand to see Avatar in 3D.

    And don’t come down on the Abyss. That movie is a classic!

  4. If you read the NYT article it states the ‘estimates’ for the production are $230 mil. The $500 mil is a guess at what the tag will be with all of the promotions. It’s funny but most other movies only get quoted on their production cost and $230 is not that far off from the cost of Transformers 2 (which was $200+). Transformer hype had to total the cost close to $500 mil but the only comments on it were how bad a film it was, nothing about it’s big price tag. Cameron and investors dropped some $$ into it but they are looking at it from the technology stand point and what they will benefit from what was created to make the film possiible.

    Further on in the article it states that with the way that Fox and the investors are positioned, the movie would only need hit $250 domesticly to be in the black (quite a bit from John’s $750)and since the average film usually makes slightly more in the overseas market, it could easily be profitable. So before you all jump on the HOLY CRAP bandwagon, read the original article and not just TMB sound bytes. At least this time it’s not a intentional mis-quote, just not the whole story.

  5. I’ve got to hand it to James Cameron…….he seems to have the nagging habit of making “the most expensive film ever made” in his veins. .\ He did it first with Terminator 2 : Judgment Day , costing 100 million – the most expensive film ever back in 1991. Then with Titanic in 1997 , at the 200 million dollar price tag on it (co-financed by Paramount and 20th Century Fox) . Now this new film , “Avatar”, costing a eye-popping $500 million cost… wow.. maybe next time, he’ll make “Battle Angel Alita” at a 1 billion dollar price tag… maybe Cameron isn’t worried about the world economy and recession… lol.

  6. What difference does it make if a film makes it’s money back via the box office alone or with sales of DVD/Blu Ray as well? The movie will make it’s money back, i agree, not at the box office but eventually it will make money.

      1. If films so “rarely” made their money back, there wouldn’t be a film industry.

        Plenty of films make money, especially over the long haul. Lots of films tank and lose gigantic sums. The industry is most certainly a bigger risk than most, but it’s exactly the kind of industry where the risks are huge — and so are the rewards.

        That’s why the films keep getting made. Enough of them are profitable that they keep getting done, and will for a long time.

  7. I am curious….is it possible that the studios leaked on purpose the $500M pricetag just to get people talking? That way some people are like I got to see this movie it costs $500M?

  8. I don’t think there’s any issue with the film passing Transformers. I didn’t bother to see it because I disliked the first one so much.

    I haven’t yet seen a James Cameron film that I haven’t liked (although admittedly I’m yet to eyeball Piranha II: Flying Killers).

  9. I have no doubt that it will break even. As for it making a profit in its theatrical run I’m not so sure. I don’t think that the studios would give Cameron the money if they had any doubts. I don’t think it will set any records opening day or week but I think that if its good it could have a good theatrical run. The only thing that I think will bother people is the running time which according to IMDB is 2 hours and 44 minutes.

  10. Have we finally reached the ceiling of effects technology in film? Just because it cost a squillion dollars to make the effects more realistic, doesn’t mean it makes them “better”.
    Still, this is a James Cameron film, and that, coupled with curiosity from the general public, might help this film limp to the line after plenty of post-release hype as well….

    … although I doubt it.

  11. 500 million….?

    Okay…I’ might catch shit here, so I’ll stick my net out.

    500 Milllion— It’s not even close But what is important to note is that the projection includes the ad blitz, mech tie ins all that stuff so,… if tech was created for the film that could help other films/filmmakers down the road, then I could see at least 300 to 350 million. But 500? That sounds like an outrageous, overblown number.

    Y’know something? I been reading and/or hearing a lot of internet “bad press” concerning the upcoming film. (“He ripped off THIS! and he ripped off THAT! and he stole from THIS!! and plagiarized THAT!!!…so on so on blah blah blah and there’s no grounds for it at all, period) I’m tired of it already. I just want to see it, I want to judge it on its own merits, where it stands, where it falls.

    But let’s assume *it is* 500 estimated.
    SO WHAT??


    I repeat
    SO WHAT??

    Cameron also put up his own risk money. I cannot, and will not, fault the studio for backing the film in part. He stands to lose more than the studio does.

    By the way, I could not help notice that some of the int’ friends taking potshots at The Abyss. It’s a great film that has gotten respect over the years (especially the extended cut) and while it is true the film wasn’t a breakout hit and just broke even back in 1989…

    What does it have to do with Avatar’s price tag?
    That’s right. Nothing.

    1. Hey, I’m with you on that. I thought the Abyss was awesome. I saw that in theater just like I’ve seen most of his movies in the theaters. I’ll see this one in theaters too. I just hope it’s good that’s all, I’m still not into the trailers.

  12. They for sure will not be able to break even. Though I do see this film being a HUGE hit all over the world. I personally want to see Cameron do something like another Titanic or Terminator, maybe even another True Lies. I’m still pumped to see Avatar though.

      1. Make it a sci-fi sequel where the grandest space cruise ship of all time heads across the universe to only end in tragedy when it collides with an asteroid, of course!

      2. Titanic 2: Judgement Day–where the ghost of Jack Dawson leads an army of the Undead and seeks out the family of the motherfucker who didn’t load the ship with enough lifeboats…..and this time, he doesn’t distract the guy on the Crow’s Nest by making out with a big-busted hot English girl…..

    1. Because the theatres need to take a cut. Movie theatres don’t send ALL of the money back to the studio. They keep a percentage for themselves to pay their staff, building rent, profit, etc.

    1. T2 had several things going for it, though. It was a sequel to a successful predecessor, starring a then widely recognized Arnold. Those are two pluses right off the bat.

    2. In 1991 though, Cameron didn’t have to deal with the fact that millions of people who used to go to the movies download the films for free. In perfect world, this movie could easily make that feat 12-15 years ago but I don’t know about now. I’m still shocked at how much the dark knight made, I thought it was awesome that even though that movie was downloaded like crazy, people still went to go see it.

      1. You’d want to watch this movie on the BIG screen. Hell, watch it on imax if you can.

        Not worried about piracy at all. The more people download, the more money movies will make in theaters. just weird like that.

      2. You mean download some crappy pirated version that wabbles, with the sound quality that’s something akin to listening to a blown-out stereo from 50 feet away.

        I think pirated movies may be hitting at profits of movies people are kind of ‘meh’ about seeing, but I highly doubt they’re stopping people from going to the Big Blockbusters. If anything, they may drive more people in.

  13. This is all part of the Avatar hype machine and i’m surprised you even played into it.

    This movie will do well. $750 million might even be a good prediction. It’s Cameron, the guy knows more about film than all of us put together.

      1. Wrong, this is one site/portal and though we love it, we are NOT the world…..walk around, listen to the buzz at the movie theatres, it’s insane how many people wanna watch this film.

        It’s James Cameron, mate, don’t underestimate him.

  14. I dont know where this 500 million price tag was cooked up, it can’t see how it can be anywhere near that amount. 300 million maybe, but this article seems to be attention seeking bs.. and it worked as a lot of people are reading it.

    1. There is a whole lot more money put in to a film than just the amount used for shooting it. Usually the biggest chunk is put in advertising, which more than often runs up to tens of millions of dollars. Hell even Paranormal Activity had a 10 million dollar advertising budget and the film was made originally for 15.000 dollars. Then there is the pre-production cost and I’m sure the biggest check was written for the development of the technology that they use and which I’m sure they will license out to others for a pretty penny.

      1. Although $500 mil is a jaw-dropping number, I believe it! Devin Faraci over at Chud wrote up a nice article concerning the alleged budget – an interesting article worth a look.

  15. I’m not sure if it will make more money than Transformers 2 did in North America, but it will definitely out do it worldwide. I do think when everything settles, Avatar will end up being the biggest moneymaker of the year(worldwide gross). Prediction: US – 375mil + Foreign – 650mil =
    1.025 billion Worldwide.I’m basing this on the fact that the trailer ROCKS!, I’ve heard the 3D looks amazing, and it’s James Cameron who has never disappointed me. Aliens, Terminator, T2, Abyss, True Lies(his worst film and still kicks ass), and Titanic. This guy knows how to make movies.

    1. Transformers 2, IMO, ran its course on nothing but hype and Megan Fox’s body (drool). I think the general consensus here is that film wasn’t great, but was at least better than the first one.

      If we’re actually thinking that a James Cameron film won’t beat out a Michael Bay venture, then we’ve got issues–Cameron’s most critically panned film to date just happens to be, oh I don’t know, the world’s BIGGEST box office hit EVER!

  16. Film looks like shit to me personally. I see it making about 300 mil in total at the box office. Then on video another 100 mil. 12 years awaiting cameron’s return to the director’s chair and this is the final product? Honestly, even the new trailers don’t seem to be that good. I am a huge fan cameron too…

    1. lol, have even seen many trailers lately? What about Avatar makes it stand out as possible shit?

      Tooth Fairy looks like shit. Avatar looks like it’s brimming with potential. And what else can you expect from a trailer, anyway?

      1. It just doesn’t interest me…I don’t like the look of it and the blue people throw me off. It just looks like a live action video game to me. I like all kinds of movies and like I said; I’ve always loved cameron’s movies, but this just doesn’t spark interest. My expectations from trailers is to spark interest in me seeing the film. This trailer doesn’t. Maybe I’ll be wrong, not ruling it out…but there is nothing wrong with me not being super excited about this movie.

  17. I think if they can make around $250mil~$3000mil, then the tech the studios will be lining up to use if the movie is that successful will put them over the top. Got to figure a big hunk of that change went into developing the tech which is going to be used in other Cameron projects and what not. Which those will also contribute in recouping that bill.

  18. Yeah, I agree with James. This is a pet project for Cameron, and is only going costing the studios roughly $300 million. The rest came from private investors and Cameron himself. I think that when all is said and done, this is going to eek out some sort of a profit, and along with some probable Oscar buzz for both Cameron and the film itself (at least after listening to Kris Tapley’s podcast, he has said there is a shot for a Best Pic nod), I think it will somehow make it’s money back. Not huge numbers, but with DVD and everything that will come with it, it will make some sort of profit. Also, I wouldn’t be shocked if this beats out Transformers 2, particularly if the film is good. Who knows.

    1. Who said this has a shot at a best bicture nod?!?! Had he seen it? I not that sounds like an insane thing to say, if you ask me. I hope it is best picture quality!

    2. Have you ever watched the behind the scenes shit for Cameron’s films?? EVERY film he has EVER done has been a “pet project” (except for maybe True Lies). But that guy gets SO into his movies, it’s ridiculous…but awesome and reassuring. He LOVES his projects. He LOVES his characters. He LOVES his stories. That guy wants EVERYTHING to be perfect, and he doesn’t stop until it is. That’s why his budgets get so HUGE. And he’s ALWAYS trying to take film to the next level.

      I have COMPLETE faith in this guy and this new movie, Avatar. It’s funny how there are never any fans to film. This guy kicks ASS for YEARS. His WHOLE career and with his next new film is about to come out and EVERYBODY is doubting him.

      Heads up, the only nay sayers I have come across have been people like you guys who leave comments on sites like this and when it comes to the the number of viewers going to see these movies, you commenters…. well…. you’re not the whole world. You may think you reflect the thoughts of the masses but… naaaa.

      Every one of my friends who have seen these trailers, especially the new one, have said it looks AMAZING and are DIEING to see it.

  19. Maybe including the DVD/Blu-Ray Release.. but I dont see it making that amount of money in Box Office $$

    But Rodney has a point, Cameron has developed new technology for this film so theres a money winner already..

    Like you john I will be quite suprised if it hits that amount..

  20. I presume that cost includes the development of Cameron’s new technology that bridges the uncanny gap.

    I wonder what the cost for the film will be if they consider the development of that tech as a separate project. (They won’t just curious to see how much of that cost WAS that developement)

    I have long said that Avatar will be a 90 minute commercial for the tech and since Cameron owns it, other film makers who want to use it will have to pay his team to use it.

    Calculate that in and where do the numbers fall?

    1. Yeah I don’t know, I’d actually read somewhere that most of the tech Cameron and co. created for Avatar was paid out of Cameron’s pocket alone, so I don’t know if it’s included in Avatar’s price tag (I’d assume they included it, but who knows). In the same article it was stated that developement costs were in the 20 million dollar range, which seems kind of low in the grand scheme of things (although 20 million is A LOT to pay out of one person’s pocket). My guess is that much of this insane price tag is due to post production costs ballooning out of control, once the outcry of “this is it???” hit after the teaser debuted. They probably went crazy trying to squeeze as much visual magic out of Avatar as they could from that point on (it does look quite a bit better now). I’m sure there are many other costly reasons for this budget too. Avatar Day looks like it mightve been a big waste of money.

  21. But I wouldnt be shocked if it does.

    In the last week before it comes out, its going to explode and everyones going to want to see it. Kinda like Paranormal Activity, the buzz for it got enormous

    1. I would be shocked. The buzz for this is dwindling now that people are seeing it. There is nothing there that will live up to a decade of hype saying “Wait til you see this!” and then getting a great looking film instead of impossible outstanding effects.

      The hype says we will lay eyes on the face of God. What is delievered is disappointingly just a step better than anything else out there right now.

      Its amazing – don’t misquote me. But its living up to the next step in technology, not leaping 20 years ahead of it.

      1. Ooo… hadn’t heard people have seen it now! Have their been any reviews posted out of curiosity? I haven’t been able to find any yet. Only things I’ve read is for people that saw the fifteen minutes.

      2. I did find an article quoting Steven Soderbergh, the director if Che, saying, “I’ve seen some stuff and holy sh*t. It’s the craziest sh*t ever.” in regard to Avatar. Though, that is only based on clips he saw, not the whole movie.

      3. @ Jeremy K

        No one is immune to the hype machine, even Steven Soderbergh. I hope he’s right, and also I hope the film, as a whole, is amazing. I have serious doubts though.

      4. @ Matt S

        This is my take. If the movie was directed by somebody like Bay or Shyamalan I might have some doubts, as they are both hit and miss with movies. Cameron has nothing but a history of outstanding films. Yes, you can say that every director will eventually strike out, but until the day I walk out of a Cameron movie thinking that I can’t believe I just paid to see that I will continue to support and have faith in his work.

      5. @ Jeremy K

        Fair enough, if I were you I’d probably be thinking the same way. For me, personally, I don’t like all of Cameron’s films as much as a lot of people. So I’m leery, still. I will agree that Cameron does have a very good batting average, so I’m also cautiously optimistic.

      6. We at TMB—and notice I say “we”–are extremely quick to crucify before we give the poor victim a chance…..

        It’s Avatar. It’s James Cameron, the same guy who directed the Titanic, the world’s biggest box office hit; a tag that hasn’t shifted in 12 years, despite movies like The Dark Knight and Transformers. The words “from the Director of The Titanic” are enough to make any moviegoer orgasm because, like it or not, the VAST majority of this world adores that movie and swears by it.

        Look, TDK made a billion over its entire course and is still netting sales in worldwide DVD releases…..I think it’s safe enough to put Avatar in that same league, at least hype-wise.

        Come on guys, don’t be so prejudgemental :-)

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