The timing worked out nicely, since Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige got to make the big announcement Saturday during the Marvel panel at San Diego Comic-Con. On Sunday, Avengers: Endgame will make just enough to dethrone Avatar.
Avatar's worldwide total is said to be $2.7897 billion, which is actually more than the $2.7879 billion posted on Box Office Mojo. According to Deadline, that's because Disney/Fox added a small amount of reissue grosses from markets around the world over the years. Since Disney now has both movies under its umbrella, it may not care too much about who wins this battle.
As of Saturday, Endgame was still down $500,000 in worldwide ticket sales, but Avengers 4 will officially pass that within the hours of Sunday, July 21.
Kevin Feige addressed the milestone during Marvel's Hall H panel, which included a series of stunning announcements:
Thanks to you, Avengers: Endgame is the biggest film of all-time.
Avatar had the title of highest-grossing film of all time for 10 years. James Cameron had the top two films on the box office chart with Avatar and Titanic. Avengers: Endgame topped Titanic's worldwide gross after just 10 day. Cameron reacted to Avengers' victory over Titanic, and he may congratulate Marvel and Kevin Feige again now that Avengers 4 has also topped Avatar.
It took nearly three months for Endgame to make more money than Avatar -- from Avengers 4's initial release April 24 in China to this Sunday, July 21, 2019 -- and it needed the help of a re-release with bonus footage. (Avatar also had a re-release that added about $33 million to its total.)
Avengers: Endgame topped Avatar at the domestic box office in its fourth week of release. By the end of this weekend, Endgame is expected to be at $854.2 million domestically, vs. $760.5 million for Avatar. Neither one ever came close to the #1 domestic champion, which remains Star Wars: The Force Awakens with $936.6 million.
When it comes to the foreign box office, Avatar is still ahead with roughly $2.028 billion over Endgame's roughly $1.930 billion.
But this was always a battle of the worldwide total, domestic plus foreign. Ticket prices have changed in the past 10 years, so there will always be the asterisk caveat of not adjusting for inflation. But that story holds true for Avatar as well, when it comes to adjusting for inflation.
If we're just talking domestic box office, according to Box Office Mojo, the inflation-adjusted champion is 1939's Gone With the Wind, followed by Star Wars, The Sound of Music, and E.T. You have to go down to #11 to get to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with Avatar at #15 and Endgame at #16.
For the moment, the Marvel Cinematic Universe can take a bow. It is no easy feat to take the worldwide box office crown. Fans should also pat themselves on the back if they did their part to help Avengers: Endgame. First and foremost, fans did this because they love the movie. Some also may have done it because they don't care as much about Avatar. Others might just want to be part of a cinematic moment in history.
Either way, Marvel surely loves you 3000 for this honor, and Stan Lee would be thrilled. Excelsior.