‘Avengers: Endgame’ to Top ‘Avatar’ on Sunday as Highest Grossing Film of All Time

Climactic Marvel blockbuster will close gap with James Cameron’s film in its 13th week of release

Thanos Endgame
Thanos in “Avengers: Endgame” (Marvel)

Like Thanos, this was inevitable. In its 13th week of its release, Disney’s “Avengers: Endgame” is set to overtake “Avatar” as the highest grossing film in box office history, ending the James Cameron film’s nine-year reign atop the global charts.

Marvel announced the record-breaking achievement would take place on Sunday at its panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

As of Friday, “Avengers: Endgame’s” global gross stood at $2,789.2 million. This is just $500,000 behind the lifetime global gross of “Avatar” of $2,789.7 million set back in 2010, and “Endgame” will close this gap by tomorrow.

Even when adjusted for inflation, “Endgame” sits among the top 10 highest grossing films of all time, standing among some of cinema’s greatest event films like “Star Wars,” “Doctor Zhivago,” and “The Ten Commandments.”

The road to this new record was a far different one than what “Avatar” took. Back in 2009, “Avatar” was set for a December release to take advantage of the holiday season, earning a $77 million opening that still stands as the largest opening for a film that is not a sequel, remake, or adaptation.

From there, a combination of word of mouth, a lack of competition, and Oscar buzz that led to a Best Picture nomination allowed “Avatar” to stay at No. 1 all the way through the end of January and in theaters until August, earning a staggering 9.87x multiple and a domestic run of $760 million. The overseas numbers, fueled by the rise of 3D screens, were even more spectacular with an international total of over $2 billion and totals of over $100 million in nine countries.

But “Avengers: Endgame” didn’t need word of mouth to top Cameron and the Na’vi. The swan song of Iron Man, Captain America, and the original Avengers was set in stone as a global event film the likes of which have never been seen in the motion picture industry, building off the decade’s worth of stories told in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the shocking ending to last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Off of that hype, “Endgame” smashed over 140 box office records in its opening weekend, including a $1.22 billion global opening total and a $357 million domestic total. The previous records were $640 million global and $257 million domestic, both held by “Avengers: Infinity War.” By the end of its second weekend, “Endgame” had blown past the $2 billion mark, making it a certainty that it would pass “Avatar” even as grosses quickly slowed down with the arrival of other summer blockbusters.

Domestically, “Endgame” is now only the second film to gross over $800 million, and that total has pushed Disney’s domestic gross to over $1.5 billion after just five months. The studio’s 2019 totals are expected to reach at least $3.5 billion, with $4 billion a possibility as the studio will release films it acquired from its 20th Century Fox merger along with highly anticipated films like “The Lion King,” “Frozen II,” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

More to come…