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Avatar fastest film to break $1 billion mark

They are 10ft tall, blue-skinned and inhabit the distant moon Pandora some 145 years into the future. But the Na’vi, a species of extraterrestrial eco-friendly hunters in the smash hit movie Avatar, have already made cinema history by raking in $1billion at cinema box offices in just three weekends.

entertainment Updated: Jan 05, 2010 23:34 IST

They are 10ft tall, blue-skinned and inhabit the distant moon Pandora some 145 years into the future. But the Na’vi, a species of extraterrestrial eco-friendly hunters in the smash hit movie

Avatar

, have already made cinema history by raking in $1billion at cinema box offices in just three weekends.

The fantasy extravaganza, starring Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington, is the fastest movie ever to break the billion mark and ranks, already, as the fourth highest grossing film.

Produced by Rupert Murdoch’s Twentieth Century Fox film studio, Avatar, is a tale of imperialism, environmental recklessness and military might that chronicles an effort by a mining company, RDA, to exploit mineral resources on a distant moon, using digitally generated fighters to overwhelm the peace-loving Na’vi.

Its director, James Cameron, has acknowledged the film has undertones critical of America’s so-called war on terror.

Avatar’s rapid success has vindicated Cameron, who faced huge hype in following up his 1997 Oscar-winner, Titanic. And it is proving to be a winning bet for Murdoch’s News Corporation, which rolled the dice by approving the movie’s production using cutting-edge 3D digital screen technology at an estimated cost of $270m to $300m.

“The movie has performed even beyond the loftiest of expectations,” said Gitesh Pandya, editor of the cinema website BoxOfficeGuru.com in New York. “This is supposedly the most expensive production ever made so expectations were high that it would bring in good, even record grosses. But in under three weeks, it’s become the number four global blockbuster of all time.”

For Fox’s parent company, News Corporation, the success could hardly be more timely. Murdoch’s global empire, which spans BSkyB and Fox television, the social networking website MySpace and newspapers including the Sun, Times and Wall Street Journal, lost $3.4bn in the year to June 2009 as it struggled with a worldwide slump in advertising. Within minutes of the stockmarket’s opening for 2010, shares in News Corporation gained 2.3 per cent.

Industry estimates suggest Avatar needed takings of $217m in the US and Canada alone to break even. With North American receipts standing at $352m, the film has easily passed that mark already. From here onwards, News Corp sees money flow directly to its bottom line.