Page last updated at 06:07 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

Avatar smashes $1bn box office speed record


Watch a scene from the blockbuster - Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Avatar has become the fastest movie ever to achieve $1bn (£625.6m) in ticket sales around the world.

Distributors 20th Century Fox say it has earned more than $350m (£217m) in the US and more than $670m (£415m) in the rest of the world in only 17 days.

The 3D science fiction blockbuster was directed by James Cameron, who also made Titanic, the best selling movie of all time.

The latest figures make Avatar already the fourth-biggest film ever made.

Ahead of it are Titanic ($1.8bn; £1.1bn), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ($1.12bn; £695m) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($1.07bn; £664m).

Avatar - about a disabled marine who infiltrates a race of giant blue aliens - combines live action with digitally-enhanced performances.

It was reportedly the most expensive film ever made, with a budget of at least $300m (£186m).

Expensive tickets

"This is like a freight train out of control," said 20th Century Fox distribution executive Bert Livingston. "It just keeps on going.

"I think everybody has to see Avatar once, even people who don't normally go to the movies, they've heard about it and are saying, 'I have to see it'," he said.

"Then there are those people seeing it multiple times."

Avatar has now reached most parts of the globe. It opened in China on Saturday and is due to reach Italy - its final market - on 15 January.

The huge box office takings are partly down to the higher cost of tickets for 3D performances, says the BBC's Peter Bowes in Los Angeles.

But as Hollywood enters its traditional slow season, with few big films due for release, Avatar is likely to dominate the box office for several more weeks, he adds.

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