‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ passes ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ to become 10th biggest domestic release

James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” has been doing huge box office business both domestically and overseas since it opened in mid-December, passing many impressive milestones while playing in theaters for less than two months. It has grossed over $2.1 billion worldwide, and last week, it crossed $600 million domestically.

As of Sunday, it had made $620.8 million, setting another major milestone in its sights, because this week it indeed passes another enduring blockbuster, “Marvel’s The Avengers,” to become the 10th highest-grossing movie of all time. Domestically, “The Avengers” made $623.4 million in 2012, becoming at the time the third-highest grossing movie behind Cameron’s previous movies, “Avatar” in 2009 and “Titanic” in 1997.

Despite having been released over 10 years ago, “The Avengers” was a significant movie for Marvel and Disney, becoming the first movie to ever open with more than $200 million in a single weekend. Other movies have opened higher since then and gone on to make a lot more money, but at the time, it seemed like “The Avengers” might be gunning for the box office records previously set by “Titanic” and “Avatar,” since those remained long-standing record holders until “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” relaunched that franchise.

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With the money it made on Tuesday, “The Way of Water” not only has surpassed “The Avengers,” but it also has entered the Top 10 list of domestic blockbuster hits where Cameron’s “Avatar” and “Titanic” currently hold the fourth and eighth place, respectively.

If you read the February box office preview or the weekend preview then you know that “The Way of Water” has a lot of competition this weekend and over the next month, which means it will be losing some of its premium theaters.

Next in line on the all-time list is 2015’s “Jurassic World” with $653.4 million, and then “Titanic” with $659.4 million. One big caveat for the latter is that “Titanic” is getting a 25th anniversary re-release this month, which could make it a tougher target for “The Way of Water” to catch.

$30 to 40 million might not seem like a lot for a movie that’s been so dominant at the box office, but with fewer Oscar prospects – it received four nominations – and more competition, it’s probably going to start seeing diminishing returns. Even with that in mind, the original “Avatar” made $629.3 million after eight weeks, and then it made another $131 million over the rest of 2010.

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In other words, “The Way of Water” had been way ahead of “Avatar” for many weeks, but it’s starting to tail off, and now, it’s almost even with where the OG “Avatar” was after eight weeks, which coincidentally, is also when Cameron’s epic was bumped from first place by Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried in “Dear John.”

“Avatar: The Way of Water” also has some strong competition coming up, so we’ll have to see if it furthers its way up the ranks of highest-grossing blockbusters or has to settle for 10th place all-time.

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