December 1, 2009 / 9:30 PM / 9 years ago

Regal cinema group sees "Avatar" making over $250 million

Visitors wear 3D glasses as they watch a preview of the upcoming movie "Avatar" during the 40th annual Comic Con Convention in San Diego in this July 23, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The highly anticipated 3-D movie “Avatar” could make more than $250 million in the U.S. and Canada, and draw new audiences to 3-D films, Regal Entertainment Group’s chief executive said on Tuesday.

Amy Miles, who runs the world’s largest theater operator, said “Avatar” appeals to older viewers who have not seen 3-D films because many recent 3-D releases have been animated movies appealing to children, such as “Monsters vs. Aliens” and “Up.”

“I think what that would do is introduce a section of the audience that has not seen 3-D,” told Reuters.

“Avatar” is from director James Cameron, whose 1997 blockbuster film “Titanic” was the highest-grossing movie of all time worldwide, with $1.7 billion.

Using new 3-D technology, “Avatar” tells the story of a U.S. Marine soldier who visits an extraterrestrial globe with exotic inhabitants.

The film’s release, by Twentieth Century Fox on December 18, comes as Regal is making a big push into digital technology, converting 1,500 of its more than 6,700 screens to 3-D technology.

But while Miles said the movie is likely to be a hit, and draw in new audiences, she played down the potential importance of “Avatar” to the broader push for 3-D in theaters.

“I’m a little less of the opinion that ‘Avatar’ is a game-changer,” Miles said. “I think from a film technology perspective, there’s a lot of enhancements that are going to benefit the industry, but 3-D is going to be successful whether ‘Avatar’ is successful or not,” Miles said.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Sue Zeidler

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