'Avatar' advance ticket sales skewing male

Men make up 78% of purchasers; 89% of sales for 3D

Advance ticketing for James Cameron's sci-fi actioner "Avatar" is skewing heavily toward male moviegoers, but sales are going so strongly that it shouldn't represent a problem.

The pricey Fox pic's theatrical run is targeting a broad range of demos, but online ticketer MovieTickets said Wednesday that a whopping 78% of "Avatar" ticket buyers have been males.

Prerelease tracking surveys have shown the strongest must-see interest among male moviegoers, so the gender imbalance is surprising only in its scope. Also as expected, MovieTickets said 89% of advance sales have been for performances in 3D venues.

"Avatar" unspools 12:01 a.m. Friday in a mix of 2D and 3D auditoriums amid broad expectations that the pic will ring up at least $80 million domestically through Sunday. Produced mostly in motion-capture animation, "Avatar" this weekend will play in more than 3,400 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, with its 6,000 screens roughly split between 2D and 3D presentations.

Advance ticketing also is going strong overseas. An Imax theater in the British Film Institute on London's South Bank reports record sales for "Avatar," outpacing even the heady presales rate for 2008's "The Dark Knight."

"Avatar" bows simultaneously in most countries around the world this week, with three notable exceptions: It debuts Dec. 23 in Japan, Jan. 2 in China and Jan. 15 in Italy.

Elsewhere among the many positive signs in advance of the big "Avatar" bow, online ticketer Fandango found that 75% of visitors to its sales site said it's important for them to see the film in Imax 3D. Venues presenting the film in 3D will employ the usual upcharge of $3 or more on "Avatar," but Imax tickets generally cost at least more than tickets for 2D presentations in comparable markets.

Fandango said 78% of those surveyed consider themselves Cameron fans, and 72% say positive early reviews have heightened their interest in the film.

The online ticketer said its advance sales for "Avatar" are outpacing three sci-fi actioners from the past several months: "Star Trek," "2012" and "Terminator Salvation."