Avatar has retaken the highest-grossing film of all time spot after it was re-released in China.
The sci-fi epic debuted in 2009 and held the global box office number one title for a decade until it was overtaken by Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame in 2019.
It was re-released in China, the world’s biggest movie-watching market and now it’s total sales pushed above the $2.8bn (£2bn) mark this weekend.
Disney owns both Avengers and Avatar films after the company bought entertainment assets from Fox in 2019.
It also owns the Titanic movie, which is third on the list of highest-grossing movies.
“We are proud to reach this great milestone, but Jim (James Cameron) and I are most thrilled that the film is back in theatres during these unprecedented times, and we want to thank our Chinese fans for their support,” said Avatar producer Jon Landau.
James Cameron, director of Avatar is currently working on four sequels to Avatar. The next film, which has been delayed several times, is currently scheduled for release in December 2022.
A China Avatar re-release had been long mooted, but the film suddenly popped onto the calendar earlier this week. It is out on most of the IMAX network and in 3D (formats that are embraced in China), and is the first non-local film to lead the weekend box office in China this year. This session it is pushing Chinese New Year phenom Hi Mom down to second place.
Speaking to China.org on Thursday, Cameron said the film is just as relevant today as it was when it released more than a decade ago. “We’ve got climate change, we’ve got deforestation, our relationship with nature is more at risk than it’s ever been, and Avatar is about those things, but it also is a timeless film. Some people criticize the stories for being too simple. It wasn’t that simple — it was universal. It was something that everybody everywhere could understand and emotionally related to.” It’s worth noting that Avatar has had a handful of re-releases since its original run, whereas Endgame made essentially all of its money in 2019.
Cameron has been working busily on the sequels. Disney has scheduled Avatar 2 for Dec. 16, 2022; part 3 for Dec. 20, 2024; part 4 for Dec. 18, 2026; and part five for Dec. 22, 2028.