James Cameron Sets Historic Box Office Milestone That No Director Has Ever Achieved

By Sam Hargrave Posted:
James Cameron, Avatar 2 The Way of Water, Box Office

As Avatar: The Way of Water continues to win at the box office, the sequel earned yet another milestone for director James Cameron.

Cameron is clearly one of the most successful directors of the modern era, having not just created the iconic worlds of Avatar and Terminator, but also directed influential and record-breaking blockbusters like Titanic.

The recent success of Avatar: The Way of Water - a sequel that comes over a decade after the original - led to countless broken records, and even created a huge milestone for Cameron himself as a director.

Well, even over a month into the theatrical run of the Pandoran blockbuster, The Way of Water is showing no signs of slowing down and has even earned the director yet another huge career accolade.

James Cameron Makes Box Office History

Avatar The Way of Water James Cameron

Disney confirmed in an official press release that Avatar: The Way of Water eclipsed the $2.07B box office gross of Star Wars: The Force Awaken in its seventh weekend to become the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time worldwide, now standing at $2.117B globally.

The milestone leaves James Cameron as the director of three of the four highest-grossing movies of all time worldwide, something which no other filmmaker has ever achieved. This also marks yet another record for actress Zoe Saldana who becomes the first actor to ever star in three of the top four. 

The five highest-grossing movies of all time worldwide can be seen below:

  1. Avatar (James Cameron) - $2,922,917,914
  2. Avengers: Endgame (Joe & Anthony Russo) - $2,797,501,328
  3. Titanic (James Cameron) - $2,187,535,296
  4. Avatar: The Way of Water (James Cameron) - $2,116,580,771
  5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (J.J. Abrams) - $2,068,223,624

Disney has now released three of the five highest-grossing movies of all time - The Way of Water, Avengers: Endgame, and The Force Awakens - while also holding the distribution rights to Avatar and the international rights to Titanic.

The Way of Water now stands as the highest-grossing film of all time in 19 countries that include France, Austria, New Zealand, and more. The full list of countries in which this record was achieved can be seen below:

France, Austria, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lebanon, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Cambodia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Colombia, and Puerto Rico.

Having been atop the domestic box office for the last seven weekends since its release, Avatar 2 becomes the first to maintain that streak since 2009's Avatar.

The news comes just days after Avatar 2 saw great success at the 2023 Oscar nominations, having earned nods for Best Picture, Visual Effects, Production Design, and Sound.

Can Avatar 2 Beat Avengers: Endgame's Box Office?

Avatar 2, Avengers: Endgame
The Direct

Since last weekend, Avatar: The Way of Water grossed $189 million worldwide, leaving it just $71 million behind Titanic and the third-place spot. Based on the current pace and the lack of major competition, that milestone will likely be achieved within the next week, but can Avatar 2 climb any higher?

Well, the next hurdle to overcome after Cameron's own Titanic comes with Avengers: Endgame and its $2.798B total. The Way of Water still has some way to come before topping Marvel Studios' record as it still sits $681 million above Avatar 2, but that's far from impossible for a movie of this scale.

The Way of Water still has two more weekends to go competition-free before Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania arrives to ruin the party on February 17. But that's not to say that will mark the end of the Pandoran adventure's success, and it could still continue to climb slowly but surely past Endgame's record.

Disney is clearly eager to facilitate this and allow Avatar 2 to keep earning at the box office as it sets the course for a long theatrical run. In fact, fans shouldn't expect to see The Way of Water arriving at home and on Disney+ anytime soon, especially as its box office is showing no signs of slowing down.

So, can Avatar: The Way of Water actually surpass Avengers: Endgame? For now, the sequel still has a ways to go before then, but audiences shouldn't count out its chances. Just how possible this task will largely hinge on how well it continues performing once Ant-Man 3 arrives to bring its first real competition.

The thought of Avatar and its sequel being the two highest-grossing movies of all time worldwide is truly a crazy one and a testament to how well Cameron's Pandoran world has resonated with audiences - especially international ones. One can only wonder what this means for the box office of 2024's Avatar 3.

Avatar: The Way of Water is playing now in theaters worldwide.

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.