October 21, 2016
        "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race                "The Jungle Book," "Zootopia" and Craft Artists to be Honored at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Ben Affleck's "Live By Night" officially is a 2016 contender        

“Alice,” “Avatar” power March to record box-office totals

According to published reports, the domestic box office tallied more than $832 million in March, setting a new record as the highest gross for that month. The previous high was $795 million, set during March 2007.

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo reports that 3-D enhanced features such as Tim Burton’s “Alice In Wonderland” and DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon” pushed overall business up 10 percent over February, and an additional 29 percent over March 2009.

Gray adds that the first-quarter gross for 2010 also set a new record, amassing $2.65 billion (up 9 percent over Q1 of 2009).

Higher grosses does not necessarily mean higher attendance figures, though. Increased prices for 3-D tickets appears to have contributed to more than $70 million of the overall March total, according to Mojo. Factor in the recent rise in general ticket prices across the board, and March 2010 only ranks ninth on the list of estimated attendance. Currently, March 2010 accounts for an estimated 100 million tickets sold. The highest month remains March 2002, which racked up an estimated 132 million tickets sold (thanks to contributions from the animated hit Ice Age and a 20th anniversary re-release of Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.”).

If “Alice” won the month of March, then Fox’s “Avatar” won the quarter. James Cameron’s holdover hit, which opened last December but continued to play strong well into 2010, earned $457 million from January through March, making it the highest grossing film in Q1. Overall, Fox leads all studios for Q1 with an impressive $751 million in year-to-date b.o. for a 26% market share, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Warner is in second place and gaining ground, thanks to a strong start for the studio’s “Clash of the Titans” remake.

“Avatar” was followed by “Alice,” Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” ($121 million), the romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day” ($109 million) and Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” ($106 million), which is now out on DVD.

To read more about up-to-date box office figures, visit www.boxofficemojo.com.

About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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