Avatar Re-Release Spells Trouble for Avengers: Endgame's Box Office Record

Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) in her Na’vi avatar.
Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) in her Na’vi avatar.
Image: Disney

Avengers: Endgame has the highest global box office gross of all time. However, only $7.4 million stands between it and James Cameron’s Avatar movie, which held the record for a full decade until Marvel eked out its win. But now Avatar is getting re-released in China, and it’s looking to regain the crown.


The Hollywood Reporter notes that Cameron’s tale of a white man who saves a planet of blue animal people by becoming a blue animal person is getting a wide re-release in China this Friday. In a country of 1.4 billion people, where only a little over 102,000 people have contracted Covid, in the first major movie re-release since theaters reopened, $7.4 million is practically nothing. And Avatar absolutely has fans in China. THR says:

Avatar is an especially nostalgic Hollywood title for Chinese millennials. The movie was among the first wave of Hollywood blockbusters to sweep the country as it was entering its high-growth box-office boom era of the late aughts — and Avatar became the biggest sensation of them all. The film opened on a bitterly cold Monday in Beijing in January, 2009, instantly setting a new record for biggest opening ever in China on a weekday. The Hollywood Reporter’s Beijing correspondent at the time wrote of Chinese cinema-goers lined up outside theaters in foot-deep snow, waiting to get a glimpse of Cameron’s 3D vision of [P]andora.

However, there’s always the chance that no one actually cares about Avatar anymore, because it definitely seems like people have stopped caring about Avatar. The fandom died out quickly, and the movie has held virtually no place in the pop culture aether for the last decade other than Cameron’s occasional announcement about its sequels. The 3D fad that Avatar pretty much created has petered out, too, and it’s not like the story had anything original to offer besides that spectacle.

Still, it will only take 165,000 Chinese theatergoers with nostalgia to topple Endgame, and that’s if theaters there decide to sell the tickets at half-price (which would cost $4.50 a pop). I suspect you’ll see an io9 article about Avatar defeating Endgame by Friday the 19th, if not sooner.

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Rob Bricken was the Editor of io9 from 2016-18, the creator of the poorly named but fan-favorite news site Topless Robot, and now writes nerd stuff for many places, because it's all he's good at.


Dr Emilio Lizardo

If you believe the COVID numbers China reports, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you may be interested in.