Avatar buzz is so strong it boosts prospects of Fox's parent co.

James Cameron's 3-D sci-fi epic Avatar opens tomorrow, and the buzz is so strong it's deafening. Consider:

♦With early reviews already out (including ours), Rotten Tomatoes has given the movie an 83 percent "fresh" rating.

Early audiences have given the movie standing ovations.

♦It currently represents 87 percent of weekly ticket sales on Fandango, the nation's leading movie ticketing destination. Midnight showings Thursday have already sold out theaters from Buford, Ga., to Roseville, Calif., and 72 percent indicate that the film's positive reviews have increased their interest in seeing the movie, the site reported.

Now comes news, from Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood column, that profit hopes for the movie are so high, despite its estimated $400 million cost, that at least one analyst is revising his recommendation (from sell to neutral) for the stock of 20th Century Fox's parent corporation, News Corp.:

He's also raising his 2010 [earnings per share] forecast because of James Cameron's movie coming out at midnight tonight.

She quotes Pali Capital media analyst Rich Greenfield:

We can gripe about the unnecessary length of the film and a typical Hollywood ending, but the honest truth is that nobody in the world has ever seen a movie like Avatar.

--Fox's potential to generate a profit on Avatar remains unclear given its cost and whether a film so closely associated with 3D filmmaking will translate into (2D-only) DVD/Blu ray sales during 2010. That being said, we do not walk away believing Fox is in danger of losing a massive amount of money on the film.

-- Avatar (best experienced on one of the US's 178 IMAX 3D screens or at worst on the 3,000+ traditional 3D screens the film will open on Friday) will set off a new wave of 3D filmmaking in the years to come and is likely to accelerate consumer interest in in-home 3D (not as far away as you think; only 2-3 years).

How psyched are you? Do you already have tickets?
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