Avatar made $1 billion and everyone’s got an opinion on why (or at least Salon.com and AdAge do). The first comes from Salon:
That doesn’t just make James “Titanic” Cameron the first man to direct two billion-dollar movies. It also sends a clear message to all those industries getting remade from top to bottom by the pressures exerted by the Internet and associated computer technologies: Keep innovating, and you will keep finding customers.
And here’s what AdAge has to say:
“Avatar” was a costly gamble for Fox — its production budget was once confirmed by the studio to be $237 million but believed to have climbed as high as $300 million with an additional estimated $150 million global marketing outlay (a global figure on par with Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight,” the second-highest grossing film of all time). So the studio had to manage its own expectations along with that of moviegoers.
I’m much more inclined to go with the second theory.