James Cameron’s Avatar grossed a solid $3.537 million from 12:01 a.m. Friday screenings. 85% of the gross came from 3D theaters.
The highly anticipated 3D sci-fi from 20th Century Fox film opened today at 3,452 theaters or about 5,000 screens domestically. That includes 3,129 screens at 2,038 3D sites (including 179 IMAX locations).
Avatar could pull in $80-85M opening weekend which would break the record for highest-grossing December opening (the current record-holder is 2007’s I Am Legend which drew $77.21 million in its opening weekend).
The midnight number may be lower than past films (including May’s Star Trek which pulled in about $3M from 12:01am on, but about $7 million total including the 7:00- midnight screenings), but it’s still a strong start for a December film and current tracking is showing that the movie is performing very strong on Friday. Midnight performances also aren’t necessarily a strong indicator of future box office performance. For instance, Star Trek pulled in $75.2M over its first Fri-Sun frame ($79.2M including Thursday evening screenings), but Watchmen, which pulled in a stronger $4.55 million from its midnight screenings, only managed a total domestic take of $107.51 million.