December 22, 2009 / 12:40 AM / 9 years ago

"Avatar" debut box office raised to $77 million

Director of the movie James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis pose at the premiere of "Avatar" at the Mann's Grauman Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California December 16, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director James Cameron’s new movie “Avatar,” considered one of the most expensive movies ever made, on Monday saw its initial weekend ticket sales raised to $77 million in the United States and Canada.

The movie’s box office performance has been widely watched given its cost. Sunday’s initial estimates showed ticket sales at $73 million in the U.S. and Canada and $159 million elsewhere for global ticket sales of $232 million.

Box office watchers said a weekend snowstorm that buried cities from Washington to Boston hurt ticket sales along the U.S. East Coast. But as final figures were tallied, the blizzard was slightly less of an issue than first believed.

“Avatar,” which mixes live action and animation, paints a picture of a lush planet in outer space and tells of a man sent there to infiltrate an alien race of blue people.

Film studio 20th Century Fox has said it spent $237 million to make the movie, but some newspaper reports have estimated it cost at least $300 million. The studio had said it would spend another $150 million to market the film.

Despite its solid opening, “Avatar” did not set records. The top worldwide total for a weekend debut is $394 million for July’s “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” The best U.S. and Canadian initial weekend is $158 million for the 2008 Batman movie “The Dark Knight.”

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