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'Avatar' again becomes top-grossing film of all time

Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana appear as

 Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana appear as digitally enhanced characters in James Cameron's "Avatar." Credit: 20th Century Fox / Everett Collection

The science-fiction epic "Avatar" (2009), James Cameron's pioneering panoply of live-action, motion capture and CGI, is again the all-time, worldwide box-office champ after being edged out by "Avengers: Endgame" in July 2019.

Thanks to a surprise re-release in China over the weekend, "Avatar" grossed roughly $21 million to bring its extant $2,790,439,000 take to $2,810,779,794. "Avengers: Endgame" is now in second place with $2,797,501,328.

The newly released film-industry figures are especially impressive in that they do not account for ticket-price inflation from 2009 to 2019.

"Congratulations to @JimCameron, [producer] @JonLandau, and ALL of Na'vi Nation for reclaiming the box office crown!" Marvel Studios tweeted Saturday, referencing the natives of the extrasolar rainforest moon Pandora in writer-director Cameron's blockbuster. "We love you 3000," the tweet added, paraphrasing an emotional slice of dialogue from "Avengers: Endgame."

Attached was a 5-second animated video of the "A" logo of the superhero team the Avengers morphing into an "A" for "Avatar," along with a winged figure.

Cameron and the official Avatar Twitter account each responded with a blue friendship-heart emoji as they retweeted Marvel's missive.

Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, who together directed the two-part "Avengers: Infinity War" (2018) and "Avengers: Endgame" (2019), tweeted, "Passing the gauntlet back to you... @JimCameron," and thanked an artist "for the beautiful art" the Russos attached.

While "Avatar" was released by 20th Century Fox on Dec. 16, 2009, that studio has since been absorbed by Disney, bringing the film under the same owner as Marvel Studios films.

The movies in third to fifth place — Cameron's "Titanic" (1997), "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens" (2015) and "Avengers: Infinity War," respectively — retain their position. "Jurassic World" (2015) recently displaced Disney's 2019, live-action-looking CGI remake of 1994's animated "The Lion King" in the no. 6 spot. Likewise, Marvel's "Black Panther" (2018) recently took over no. 12 from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" (2011), the final Harry Potter film.

Counting only domestic grosses — those for the combined U.S. and Canada markets — the box-office champ remains "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens," at $936,662,225. "Avengers: Endgame" comes in second ($858,373,000) and "Avatar" third ($760,507,625).

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