Friday, February 12, 2010

Catch of the week: Avatar and statistics

Catch of the week goes to The Numbers Guy over at The Wall Street Journal, where he shows how Avatar is not the most watched movie of all time, as the movie industry counts by total sales, not accounting for inflating, rather than by ticket sales.
Barely a month into its theatrical run, "Avatar" set a record for world-wide ticket sales, topping $1.85 billion. That is a reflection of its wide popularity, and also a reminder of the quirky way that Hollywood crowns champions.

In recent decades, the agreed-upon benchmark for movie dominance has been box-office revenue, unadjusted for inflation. That means "Avatar," like the previous all-time leader, 1997's "Titanic," and prior box-office kings benefited in part from favorable comparisons. Since tallies of ticket sales aren't adjusted for inflation, rising ticket prices have helped pave the way for a number of more-recent films, including "The Dark Knight" and "Transformers," to land near the top of box-office rankings.

Of the top 25 grossing films of all time on's U.S. box-office ranking, 18 were released in the past decade. Adjust the totals for higher admission prices mainly due to inflation, and "Avatar" would be the only one of those 18 to make the list—at No. 24, as of Thursday. The film has grossed $564.5 million in the U.S. and Canada so far, putting it $36.3 million shy of "Titanic's" U.S. record. And "Avatar" is still drawing big crowds in theaters.

How media measure their audience varies widely, and each industry's standard plays a big role in determining how often headline-grabbing records are set. Videogame and book publishers tout units sold, which removes rising prices from the equation but still can create new chart toppers because of population growth.
For the full story, go to the WSJ article.

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