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Modern Warfare 2 As Successful As Avatar

Gordon Kelly


Modern Warfare 2 As Successful As Avatar

If there was ever any doubt that video games were not to be treated in the same bracket as blockbuster movies, then this should dispel the naysayers.

Activision has this week announced that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has broken through the $1 billion mark in retail sales across the world since its launch in November. Even more astounding is that the publisher confirmed $550m of this came within the title's first five days which outpaces the opening five day worldwide theatrical box office gross figures for Avatar, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Dark Night.

"Call of Duty:Modern Warfare 2 has exceeded our expectations and shattered theatrical box office and video game records," said Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick. "There are only a handful of entertainment properties that have ever reached the $1 billion mark, which illustrates the power of the Call of Duty franchise and mass appeal of this game."

Taking this a step further is BusinessManagement.com which has broken down the costs associated with it and 2009's biggest movie hit: Avatar into this rather fetching graphic. And while Avatar does hold the larger profit to date ($990m verses $750m), what really stands out for me are 1. MW2's vastly smaller production budget and 2. That it had an even larger advertising budget than James Cameron's (beautiful, but overrated) epic. Now if that isn't punching your weight, I don't know what is.

All of which can only mean one thing: a 2011 big budget movie adaption of Modern Warfare. By the looks of it, that could save the economy on its own!


Press Release

via BusinessManagement.com


January 15, 2010, 10:17 pm

Those advertising vs. production budgets are very interesting (especially since I remember seeing more adverts/promos for Avatar than I do for MW2). Just think how much better the game would be if they had invested more money into producing the game than a lot of flash adverts.


January 15, 2010, 10:35 pm

Very impressive but Avatar still has all the DVD and Blu-ray sales to come.

Just read today that Konami have cancelled the MGS movie as they thought it was going to be pants. Good on them too.


January 15, 2010, 10:40 pm

@ravmania - And MW2 still has DLC to come which should be worth a fair bit (especially now that PC players have to pay for it).



January 16, 2010, 12:05 am

It shouldn't be forgotten the price per ticket of watching Avatar is 1/6th the price of MW2. Which means that, even when we take things to be only 1/3rd the price (based on first day discounts in the UK, and the higher price of 3D) and adjust globally, there's at the bare minimum been 4 times the audience for Avatar than Modern Warfare 2.

So yes, Modern Warfare is a huge massive money spinner, but the majority of that is down to the price point.


January 16, 2010, 12:08 am

@smc8788: I agree, if they spent more than a year or so in development and spent more money MW2 might actually be worth buying.

@the author of this article: I'm sorry but, "Beautiful, but overrated." Are you freaking kidding me!? Avatar wasn't 'just' beautiful it was an incredibly realised world with a lot more depth than any of the retard reviewers gave it credit for! Its so much easier to criticise than it is to create, and reviewers make me just a little bit sick with their bullshit criticisms of what is one of the most enjoyable films I have ever seen!


January 16, 2010, 2:45 am

Empty movie with good visuals beaten by empty game with good visuals. Big deal. Most of the popular kids at school are devoid of substance anyway.


January 16, 2010, 5:12 am

'Truth' be told the success of MW2 and Avatar is due to the 'fact' that those pesky Pirate downloaders were not interested in these titles!!!

&#8220Movie-goers make 2009 a record box office year&#8221 {http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/...}

&#8220Beatles still saving EMI after 40 years" - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/....


January 16, 2010, 6:50 am

@Enigma - MW2 was the most downloaded torrent during the holiday season, apparently. Yet, they still made a monster amount of money. Interesting.

And I think the true measure of whether a game or movie is great, is whether you get as much enjoyment out of it the second time you play or watch it.


January 16, 2010, 3:23 pm

One thing about those numbers though...the production budget for MW2...is that the full budget? I mean they had an existing engine, even if it was heavily changed. Plus they had existing assets (map design for one!). Basically I don't think you could start with 0 and create MW2 on $50m.


January 16, 2010, 7:01 pm

@supermario - "Interesting." - my point exactly.

I was being facetious.

Lord Comben III

January 16, 2010, 9:12 pm

@enigma i wouldn't say you were being facesious this is precisely the time and place for joking, comments would just be boring otherwise :)


January 18, 2010, 7:11 pm


Your point? MW2 is restricted to 18 and up, and as such the potential market shrinks quite a fair bit compared to Avatar. So can I say, by adjusting for the 18 and below market which is lost for MW2, I can increase the total intake for MW2? ;)


January 19, 2010, 8:10 pm


Good point but being an 18 and making no concessions to the kiddie market is part of the appeal for over 18s. You might lose some of those buyers in making the game more accesible. Calculating how many units would have sold with this change or that change is impossible... Which might have been your point...

BUT I think Stefan is just making the point that the figures can't be read as meaning the same number of consumers so movies might still have a much broader appeal than games still.

Leaving aside the pirate downloads that is...


January 20, 2010, 1:29 am

This isn't about how broad an appeal each title has, this is purely about the profits, which I can assure you is all the companies and its shareholders care about.


January 20, 2010, 2:18 pm


I don't doubt for one minute that profit is all the companies and, perhaps, yourself are interested in but for those of us interested in the broader issues then Stefan pointed out some more information that can be found in the article. If that is not of interest to you then fine.

And, yes, I do appreciate that the original article is about the profit level. However the number of consumers will have a knock on effect to the companies approach to pricing and marketing and well saying something about current entertainment trends...

parminder bhatti

January 20, 2010, 5:39 pm

Bear in mind that the movies cost siginificantly more than the game to make. Then on top of that the sale of 1 game is equivalent to about 7 people going to watch the movie.

Avatar is still selling like mad. There are also dvd sales and no douibt in sue course a special edition. Then there will be money made from box office movies aswell as money made when it is eventually sold to tv networks to be eventually shown on TV.

Silly and very premature comparison you are making to be honest.

Not the usual quality of article we have come to expect.


January 20, 2010, 6:01 pm

@parminder bhatti - while I take you point, what NONSENSE it is to say this is "not the usual quality of article we have come to expect."

1. It is a highly relevant discussion to have and should be addressed while both titles are still new, rather than years down the line and 2. Judging by the debate already evident in this story you are speaking from a minority perspective and show little evidence to use the term 'we'.

Personally I prefer to look for emerging trends, rather than wait to say "Oh look what happened back then..."

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