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Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ Tops His ‘Titanic’ As Highest Grosser

James Cameron’s science-fiction epic “Avatar” has passed his “Titanic” to become history’s highest-grossing film, with a sizable boost from higher-priced tickets for 3-D and Imax showings.

“Avatar,” like other contemporary films, has also benefited from the steady inflation of ticket prices —today’s average is $7.46, up from $4.69 in 1998 when “Titanic” was in theaters — meaning that “Titanic” had to sell many more tickets to reach box-office totals like “Avatar’s.” But “Avatar” remains poised to keep going for weeks if not months.

Through Monday its ticket sales around the world reached $1.86 billion, edging past the $1.84 billion in sales posted by “Titanic,” which came out in December 1997. Through Monday “Avatar” took in about $554.9 million in domestic theaters, placing it just behind “Titanic,” with sales of $600.8 million, in the domestic box-office rankings, and just ahead of “The Dark Knight,” a Warner Brothers film from 2008, which took in $533.3 million.

The performance of “Avatar” is particularly striking because the film — a leading Oscar contender this year — reached its summit so quickly.

Verizon Posts Loss, Citing Charge Related to Layoffs

Verizon reported a fourth-quarter loss of $653 million on Tuesday, mostly because of costs related to layoffs, despite a 10 percent increase in revenue.

The company also said it planned to cut an additional 13,000 jobs this year.

The company said it added 2.2 million wireless subscribers in the quarter, up substantially from the 1.2 million added a year earlier.

The quarterly loss came to 23 cents a share and contrasted with a profit of $1.24 billion, or 43 cents a share a year earlier. It took a charge of $3 billion, or 66 cents a share, related to severance expenses in the quarter.

Revenue rose to $27.1 billion, from $24.65 billion in the period a year earlier, much of it because of the acquisition of the Alltel Corp. Still, the results fell short of Wall Street expectations. “Like all U.S. carriers, Verizon has felt the impact of the macro environment in 2009,” wrote Julien Blin, an independent analyst who keeps a keen eye on the wireless industry, in a note to clients Tuesday. “However, we should start to see signs of recovery in 2010.”

During a call to investors and analysts on Tuesday, Verizon’s chief financial officer, John Killian, said the company would continue to trim costs to combat the deterioration of its residential wireline phone business and its corporate business that is still recovering from the recession. Over the last two years, the company eliminated 26,000 jobs in its wireline sector. Verizon employs about 223,000 people.