The biggest movie of all time is no longer "Avatar," and for director James Cameron that is just fine.
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This summer, the finale to comic book, superhero film franchise, "Avengers: Endgame," hit the $2.79 billion dollar mark, surpassing "Avatar" as top box office earner of all time.
The news of the changing of the guard hit Cameron in July, while in New Zealand working on a sequel to "Avatar." The competitive director seemed relieved and hopeful about the loss and what it says about the future of filmmaking.
“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’ set a record that was seemingly unconquerable and held the title of highest-grossing movie of all-time for about a decade,” Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Comscore told Fox Business.
“Appropriately, it took an 'end of an era' Marvel blockbuster to take the crown after posting the biggest opening weekend ever, breaking numerous box office land speed records, enjoying great reviews and an appreciation by critics to surpass the near $3 billion global revenue of ‘Avatar,’” Dergarabedian added.
Cameron’s track record is impressive with "Titanic" in 1997 holding the crown of biggest box office earner for several years before being bumped off by "Avatar" in 2009.
Cameron will have plenty of opportunity to regain his throne as "Avatar 2" is expected to be released in theaters on Dec. 17, 2021, and "Avatar 3" should see theaters in 2023. If those films do as well as expected the fourth and fifth films in that series are expected to roll out in 2024 and 2027, which will keep fans of the space-adventure franchise happy for years to come and for plenty of opportunities for Cameron to earn back the top spot.
“Will Avatar 2 and 3 be able to create that kind of success in the zeitgeist? Who knows. We’re trying. Maybe we do, maybe we don’t, but the point is, it’s still possible,” Cameron said. “I’m happy to see it, as opposed to an alternate scenario where, with the rapid availability, custom-designed experience that everybody can create for themselves with streaming services and all the different platforms, that [theatrical potential] might not have existed anymore.”
Despite the huge earnings of "Avatar" and "Endgame," “Gone with the Wind” outranks all films as the most successful film ever when proceeds are adjusted for inflation.
“I’m just glad it still exists because I’m all about the big screen,” Cameron says of the movie going experience. “Not that I wouldn’t do something for streaming where you can get into the characters in a different way but what I love the most to do is to create that completely kind of subsuming experience where you turn off your phone and you engage. You as an audience member engage for two hours or two and a half hours, whatever it is. And that still exists!”
It will take a juggernaut to knock off "Endgame" by perhaps earning as much as $3 billion.
“This to say the least is, a very high bar and it will literally take the movie equivalent of the 100-year-flood to overtake ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ but no one thought ‘Avatar’ would ever relinquish the crown and perhaps someday history will repeat itself if and when ‘Endgame’ passes the box office torch to another worthy cinematic juggernaut,” Dergarabedian said.