One of the most interesting box office battles in history is about to rage on, as Avatar and Avengers: Endgame haven’t yet settled which is going to come out as the highest-grossing movie of all time. It would seem, since James Cameron’s sci-fi epic was released in 2009, that the matter has been put to bed. However, both of these movies are set to be re-released in China in the coming weeks, which means, depending on how things shake out, Cameron could be back on top.
According to a new report, Avatar and all four of Marvel’s Avengers movies are set to get new releases in China, in addition to Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Interstellar. This is part of a plan to help relaunch the movie industry in the country following a weeks-long shutdown of its theaters in the interest of public health. Now, theaters are starting to reopen, but with most new releases pushed back, theaters are turning to old hits to bring in box office dollars.
Last year, Avengers: Endgame grossed $2.8 billion at the global box office, making it the new highest-grossing movie in history. Marvel’s epic Infinity War sequel served as the conclusion to more than a decade of interconnected storytelling and made for a global, shared pop culture event. That was enough, albeit barely enough, to overtake Avatar, which had a legendary run at the box office between 2009 and 2010, bringing in $2.74 billion. That record stood, rather easily, for more than a decade.
But with just $60 million separating the two movies, and re-releases on the way, things could easily change. Avatar, during its initial run, grossed $202 million in China. Avengers: Endgame grossed a staggering $614 million. However, in 2009, China had a much smaller number of theaters open. Now it boasts around 70,000. Plus, Avengers: Endgame came out far more recently. Audiences may be more eager to revisit Avatar on the big screen, given that it came out 11 years ago. Another issue at hand will be the number of screens available, as there are currently between 600 and 700 theaters representing a small fraction of the country’s total screens. There’s also the matter of people’s desire to head back to movie theaters so soon.
Other past blockbusters set to be re-released as well include Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Wolf Warrior 2 and The Wandering Earth. Movies that were delayed in China, such as 1917, Sonic the Hedgehog and Dolittle, will begin to be released sometime in April. Meanwhile, Avatar 2 is scheduled to arrive in theaters in December 2021, which means Disney will likely do a more significant re-release of the original sometime next year, which means this race is far from over. Either way, it’s Disney who comes out on top. This news comes to us via The Hollywood Reporter.