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20 April 2024

Avatar conquers UAE box-office

Avatar has changed the way we look at 3D in the region. (GETTY IMAGES)

By Keith J Fernandez

It's official. The Avatar juggernaut has demolished all records at the UAE box-office after an unstoppable run internationally.

James Cameron's sci-fi phenomenon now tops the country's all-time box-office records, having taken an astounding Dh16.97 million. Those revenues come on the back of 411,976 ticket admissions, according to distributors Empire International Middle East.

"We're extremely pleased that it gained the Biggest Ever Release title," Empire Marketing Manager Linda Picard told Emirates Business.

Avatar's performance shatters a previous record held by the doomsday action epic 2012 – a spot it occupied for less than a month.

Globally, Avatar has taken $1.6 billion (Dh5.89bn), with $500m in the US alone. And the numbers are in no way a final tally – the film continues its run at cinemas around the world. In the UAE, 2012 has taken Dh13.41m, while Titanic's total revenue is Dh11.04m. None of the figures are adjusted for inflation and Avatar additionally benefits from premium-priced 3D screenings.

Certainly, Cameron's visit to another planet has been a game changer for the 3D format, particularly in the UAE. Several cinemas in the country, for instance, installed new 3D screens ahead of Avatar's December release. Revenues have followed suit: takings from standard 35mm screenings only accounted for about Dh5.8m in the UAE, or 154,259 admissions, Empire revealed. The other Dh11.1m came from 257,717 admissions to 3D screenings.

"We consider 3D part of the exceptional success," Picard agreed. "Avatar has opened the Middle East market to 3D experience, and has has set movie making on another level internationally."

The film now trails Cameron's other big hit, Titanic, by about $230m in worldwide box-office takings.

"Titanic held its position for 12 years. Considering the fast approach of 3D, this period most probably will be shorter," Picard said when asked how long she expected Avatar's record to stand. However, she said: "We don't see any similar production coming up in the near future."

But whether the feel-good alien film, which won two Golden Globe awards for best drama and director, can match Titanic's 11 Oscar awards – a record it shares with Ben Hur and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King – seems unlikely with experts predicting it may only win nine or 10 Academy Award nominations when the announcement is made on February 2.


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