As You Read This, "Avatar" Becomes Top Box Office Film of All Time

Avatar was only $50 shy of passing Titanic as the largest global box-office film in history -- just short of the ship disaster's $1.843 billion mark. The numbers represent receipts for the weekend of Jan. 22. The movie is bringing in phenomenal audience numbers all over the world. Somewhere, probably in Asia, Europe or North America the ticket taking Avatar all the way to the top spot has already been sold.The news makes James Cameron the director of the top two global hits ever. It also marks the triumph of an improbable success that producers spent over $230 million to underwrite. Some estimates put that number even higher -- closer to $500 million. Either way, the movie will be extraordinarily profitable.

Avatar is an odd movie. Its plot is based on a paraplegic war veteran named Jake going to a planet called Pandora that's inhabited by a human-like race. Jake becomes involved in a series of battles and a romantic interest. It's an strange fantasy film, pure and simple. Why have so many people seen Avatar? That will probably be the subject of a number of PhD theses written in the decades to come. Perhaps it's due to escapism during harsh economic times, or maybe it's just fun to watch top-notch film animation. The appeal of movies, like fiction, is impossible to distill into numbers.

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