James Cameron is happy to let “Avengers: Endgame” have its moment in the sun as the highest grossing movie ever released worldwide (unadjusted for inflation), but that doesn’t mean he isn’t eyeing a reclamation of the box office record. In an interview with USA Today marking the 10th anniversary of “Avatar,” Cameron says he expects his 3D science-fiction epic to take back the box office record through an international theatrical release of the movie that will take place ahead of “Avatar 2” debuting in December 2021.
“I think it’s a certainty,” Cameron says of “Avatar” passing “Avengers: Endgame” at the box office. “But let’s give ‘Endgame’ their moment and let’s celebrate that people are going to the movie theater.”
“Avatar” opened December 18, 2009 and capitalized on interest in its groundbreaking visual effects and 3D presentation to become the highest-grossing film ever released with $2.78 billion worldwide. “Avatar” held that box office record for nearly a decade until it was surpassed this summer by “Avengers: Endgame,” the Marvel Cinematic Universe tentpole that finished its run with $2.79 billion. Cameron says the difference in grosses between the two blockbusters is two small to count.
“I don’t want to sound snarky after I took the high road [by offering congratulations],” Cameron says. “But they beat us by one quarter of a percent. I did the math in my head while driving in this morning. I think accountants call that a rounding error.”
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Should Disney bring “Avatar” back to theaters at some point to help stir up interest in the 2021 sequel, it won’t take much financial support for Cameron’s film to reclaim its spot as the world’s highest-grossing move. The filmmaker took some time in September to praise the worldwide success of “Endgame,” even if that meant he no longer had the #1 spot on the all-time box office chart.
“It gives me a lot of hope,” Cameron told Deadline. “’Avengers: Endgame’ is demonstrable proof that people will still go to movie theaters. The thing that scared me most about making ‘Avatar 2’ and ‘Avatar 3’ was that the market might have shifted so much that it simply was no longer possible to get people that excited about going and sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers to watch something.”
“Avatar 2” is right on schedule to hit its December 17, 2021 release date. The sequel will arrive 12 years after the original.