Avatar off to a solid start in midnight shows

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar rang up an estimated $3.5 million in domestic ticket sales at midnight shows on Friday morning, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

That's nowhere near a record, but it's a solid start for a non-franchise, non-sequel movie. The paper says that expectations are runnning high for the 3-D movie, which cost between $300 million and $400 million to make; early estimates are that the movie will pull in around $80 million domestically in its first weekend, and the early returns are on track for that.

"Avatar" played on about 2,000 mostly 3D screens for its earliest showtimes but will boast about 3,000 3D screens the rest of the weekend and an equal number of 2D auditoriums. Its domestic theater count runs north of 3,400.