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'Avatar' earns $3.5 million from midnight showings

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Director James Cameron’s long-awaited sci-fi magnum opus Avatar pulled in $3.5 million in grosses from last night’s midnight screenings, according to 20th Century Fox. The haul for Avatar, which is estimated to have cost in the neighborhood of $300 million to produce, lagged far behind such franchise films with rabid built-in audiences as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which earned $22.2 million and $26.3 million from midnight screenings, respectively. Still, Internet ticket sales figures suggest Avatar will debut strongly with domestic opening weekend grosses in the $80-85 million range, helped by higher ticket prices for 3-D showings.