Avatar has once again retaken its crown as the most lucrative movie of all time, with James Cameron’s 2009 film reaching a new all-time box office high to beat out 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, which took the top spot with its $2.7902 billion take that year.
But thanks to a re-release of Avatar in China, Deadline reports that Avatar has already grossed enough to push its box office total to $2.798 billion, which edges out Earth’s Mightiest Heroes once again for largest worldwide total.
The surge in Avatar ticket sales comes as China theaters are re-opening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen a rush of theatergoers eager to return to theaters. And seeing as most major Western film studios have yet to release new titles (given that most of the world has very limited theatrical capacity still), that leaves plenty of room to re-release popular titles like Avatar in the meantime.
With the rest of the weekend’s box office still ahead of it, it’s all but guaranteed that Avatar will continue to pad out its lead over Endgame over the next several days. It’s the latest development in the ongoing (and slightly petty) fight for the all-time box office record. Back when Avengers: Endgame was in theaters, Disney worked overtime to ensure it would take the top spot, re-releasing the film several weeks after its initial run with promises of an additional deleted scene to drive the numbers up.
It’s also possible that Endgame might retake its crown: Disney has ben known to put its Marvel films back in theaters as part of marathons or fan events before major new entries come out. So it’s entirely possible that Endgame could return to theaters to make a run at Avatar’s new record in the future — especially if US theaters adopt a similar strategy of re-releasing big past hits to help juice the return to theaters post-COVID over the coming months.
Of course, the real winner here is, as usual the Walt Disney Company. With Disney having bought 20th Century Fox (and with it, the Avatar films) back in 2019, the company will hold the top box office spot whether Avengers or Avatar ends up on top.