Avatar is getting a surprise re-release in China, which could see it reclaim the title of all-time box office champion over Avengers: Endgame.
Avatar is getting a surprise re-release in China, which could see it reclaim the title of all-time box office champion over Avengers: Endgame. James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi/fantasy was a cultural phenomenon, raking in the critical plaudits and quickly overtaking Cameron’s previous box office champion Titanic to become the highest-grossing movie of all time. Despite it becoming divisive in the years since, Avatar held the title until 2019, when Avengers: Endgame managed to overtake it following some clever marketing to push multiple viewings, as well as a re-release. At the time, Cameron congratulated Avengers: Endgame for beating Avatar’s box office record.
The movies are separated by less than $10 million at the top of the all-time list, a fairly insignificant number when you realize that both movies have grossed over $2.7 billion in total. Cameron is currently working on four sequels to Avatar, with the first due for release in 2022, and the follow-ups dropping every two years after that. Despite studio hopes, the generally accepted wisdom is Avatar 2 won’t overtake Avengers: Endgame at the box office, but Avatar very well could, because of that small gap in numbers. Cameron himself says he believes Avatar will beat Avengers: Endgame’s box office once again after it gets an inevitable re-release. And that may happen as soon as this month.
THR is reporting that Avatar will be re-released in China, with plans currently putting it down to be in theaters in the country from this Friday. The report says that could still be pushed out, but that it will definitely be re-released within the next three weeks, with plans crucially including IMAX 3D and a traditional 3D release. The surprise move comes as a result of plans from March last year, when the Chinese theater industry was trying to reopen following the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, no new movies were going to be released, so China applied for re-releases for previous Hollywood hits. The second wave of the virus paused those plans, but Avatar was approved for re-release regardless, leaving it available for a release now.
The re-release means Avatar stands a very good chance of overtaking Avengers: Endgame. Needing to make just $10 million on re-release, Cameron’s epic should be able to do that fairly quickly, if not in the first week of re-release in China. This would mean Cameron’s prediction came true just two years into Avengers: Endgame’s reign as all-time box office champion.
Disney, which owns the rights to both franchises, will see no problem with this, and may well undertake a re-release of Avengers: Endgame soon in order to keep the battle at the top going for as long as they can. Either way, they win, adding money to the coffers and dominating the box office charts. Whichever movie wins out in the end, it’s sure to be a while until either is overtaken, given the current state of the theater industry amid the pandemic. It also proves how quaint the concept of Avatar’s “impossible” box office record was, and reveals there’s no limit to how much money a popular movie can make given enough time.