Sunday Update: Disney provided further updates this morning, confirming a $21.1 million weekend for Avatar‘s re-release in China. That brings the total international cume for the film to $2.0503 billion, lifting its global haul to $2.8108 billion through the end of Sunday.
The reissue surpassed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ($14.6 million) as the top opening weekend for a re-release in China during the COVID-19 era. Broken down, Avatar earned $3.5 million on Friday followed by a strong 261 percent increase on Saturday and only a 2 percent drop on Sunday.
The original story on the film’s reclamation of the global box office record is below.
Saturday Report: Nearly 20 months after abdicating the thrown, James Cameron’s Avatar has returned to the global box office summit with $2.802 billion through Saturday, eclipsing Avengers: Endgame‘s $2.797 billion. The Marvel Studios film previously set the all-time worldwide record back in July 2019.
Specifically, Disney reports the 2009 film has reached $2,802,013,640 after the first two days of its Chinese re-release. Pre-sales had indicated all week that this change in banners would be inevitable. It was a last minute addition to the Middle Kingdom’s release schedule just days ago, but the continued boom of the market’s moviegoing recovery from last year’s COVID-19 shutdown has carried over into strong demand for revisiting Cameron’s sci-fi blockbuster.
Producer Jon Landau commented, “We are proud to reach this great milestone, but Jim and I are most thrilled that the film is back in theaters during these unprecedented times, and we want to thank our Chinese fans for their support. We are hard at work on the next Avatar films and look forward to sharing the continuation of this epic story for years to come.”
Entering the weekend, Avatar stood at $2,789,679,794 globally, not far behind Endgame‘s $2,797,501,328. Broken down, the Cameron film earned $760,507,625 domestically and $2,029,172,169 internationally prior to China’s replay this weekend. By comparison, the Marvel epic earned $858,373,000 domestically and $1,939,128,328 overseas.
Of note, Avatar has had multiple re-releases to date. The original run accounted for over $2.74 billion globally before a late 2010 re-release added nearly $45 million to that total ($34 million of which came from overseas territories).
By comparison, virtually all of Endgame‘s earnings were taken in during its original 2019 run.
China was already Avatar‘s second most successful market with more than $202 million during the original run, made even more impressive considering that was before the massive box office expansion generated by the country over the last decade-plus.
Cameron’s film was previously the king of the “big three” box office charts (domestic, international, and global). It never shed the title for the second, and has now reclaimed the third. The North American title, however, looks to be out of reach for the foreseeable future: Star Wars: The Force Awakens usurped Avatar‘s $760.5 million lifetime earnings with an historic $936.7 million run in late 2015 and early 2016. Endgame previously surpassed the latter to claim second place stateside behind the Star Wars sequel.
Looking forward, barring any re-releases of Endgame itself, Disney is again able to market the forthcoming sequel as the follow-up to the “biggest movie of all time”. The studio purchased the franchise as part of its 20th Century Fox acquisition in early 2019.
Avatar 2 is currently slated for release on December 16, 2022, followed by Avatar 3 on December 20, 2024, Avatar 4 on December 18, 2026, and Avatar 5 on December 22, 2028.