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Avatar 2 Just Passed the Highest-Grossing Star Wars Movie

James Cameron's Avatar: The Way of Water has now outgrossed Star Wars: The Force Awakens globally.

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jake sully and kylo ren
In the battle between Na’vi and Sith, Na’vi has now triumphed.
Image: Disney

Too bad no one has seen Avatar: The Way of Water. If they had, maybe it would already be the highest-grossing movie of all time. As it stands though, the little movie that could just became merely the fourth highest-grossing movie of all-time, topping the highest-grossing film in one of the world’s most popular franchises, Star Wars.

As of this weekend, Avatar: The Way of Water has grossed $2.12 billion at the worldwide box office. That puts it ahead of the $2.07 billion grossed in 2015-2016 by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which sits atop that mountain of a franchise. The only films that have now outgrossed The Way of Water are Titanic, Avengers: Endgame, and the first Avatar. Two of which, obviously, are also directed by James Cameron. Which is just mind-boggling.


More so than anything else, this latest in a long line of impressive achievements by Cameron’s latest shows how the popularity of Avatar and Star Wars are almost inversely flip-flopped worldwide vs. domestically. Domestically, The Way of Water isn’t even close to what The Force Awakens grossed (It’s #11 all-time domestically with almost $621 million vs. Force Awakens’ seemingly untouchable near-$937 million.) That’s a gap of over $300 million. The difference is made up internationally where the inverse is true, and Avatar has grossed about $300 million more than Star Wars. The same can be said for the original Avatar, which has grossed an incredible $785 million domestically (almost $200 million behind Star Wars), but $2.14 billion internationally. America loves Avatar, but not as much as the rest of the world does.

So what other records did The Way of Water break this week? Well, according to its distributor, Disney, the sequel is now the highest-grossing film of all-time in France, Austria, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lebanon, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Cambodia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Colombia, and Puerto Rico. Not a bad list.


And guess what? It shows no signs of stopping. This past weekend marked its seventh week at the top of the domestic box office, an achievement that hasn’t been matched since *checks notes* the previous Avatar film. However, that streak is likely to end this week with the release of M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin, followed by next week’s release of Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. But even being number three or four at the box office for a few more weeks will nudge The Way of Water even higher on the list. It’s $80 million away from the number three spot held by Titanic, which seems achievable before the run is out. Number two, however, is probably not. That’s Avengers: Endgame and it’s almost $700 million away. A whole other domestic release.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.