It may not be popular with Chinese critics, Italian parents, non-smokers, at least one active blog, and probably the Smurfs, but Avatar is currently the apple of Rupert Murdoch's eye. Thanks to its record-crushing performance at both the domestic and international box offices—$600 million and $2 billion respectively, to date—James Cameron's latest boffo blockbuster helped Murdoch's media empire, News Corporation smash Wall Street projections on its just announced second fiscal quarter earnings report.
The company saw roughly $8.7 billion in revenue for the period ending on the last day of 2009, up 10% from 2008, which translates to around $1.2 billion in profit. Not bad for a business which still maintains vast print media holdings, including the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal in the U.S.
Murdoch's newspapers in fact, were far from a drain on the bottom line. Income from that area of the company soared from $200 million in 2008's final quarter to $259 million in 2009, thanks mainly to a bolstered ad sales at the Journal. But the real cash generator for News Corp of course remains its cable television division, anchored by Fox News. Income there was up to $604 million from $448 the year before.
All of this and Avatar was only released about two weeks before 2009 expired. In his next report, Murdoch will have the full force of the film driving earnings. Say what you will about the Media Death Star that is News Corp but it sure knows how to not just survive in a tough climate but actually seems to be growing. Is it any wonder that Rupert, with an assist from Cameron, remains King of the World?