Avatar‘s tracking numbers have strongly surged. Total awareness is at 93, definite interest is at 52, first choice is at 28 and first-choice-and-release is at 39. Under-25 females who were counted on 12.10 as definitely not interested at 18 have sunk down to 8, which obviously means that negatives have dropped across the board.

After lamenting earlier this month that Avatar‘s most recent first-choice tracking seemed to have stalled out at 16, I suggested that a 30 first choice just prior to opening day seemed necessary to match box-office expectations. On December 10th I noted that Avatar’s across-the-board first choice has risen from 16 to 20 — good news. And now it’s nearly at 30, which is roughly the same or a tad higher than the first-choice figure for New Moon just before opening day.

Does this mean that previous expectations that Avatar would open somewhere between the high 60s and low 70s are perhaps moot? A box-office analyst I spoke to a few days ago said “if people are expecting Avatar to open to $100 million, their expectations are wildly unrealistic. It doesn’t need to open to anywhere near that, and Fox isn’t expecting it to.” I’m thinking that a Sunday-night figure in the mid to upper 70s might not be unrealistic.