Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige announced the news that Avengers: Endgame had become the highest grossing movie of all time at Comic-Con this summer. The timing was perfect and Marvel Cinematic Universe fans celebrated all over the world. James Cameron’s Avatar had held that record since 2009 and the director held it even before then with 1997’s Titanic. The director was in Australia shooting the Avatar sequels when he received the news, which led to a quick congratulatory social media message to Marvel Studios and the Russo Brothers. Now, Cameron reveals how he really felt about his record getting beat.
As of this writing, Avengers: Endgame has earned 2.79 billion, which eclipsed Avatar‘s $2.78 billion this summer. James Cameron is a competitive director. He has proven this time and time again over the years. So, was he upset that his Avatar box office record was crushed by a comic book movie? As it turns out, the news made him pretty happy about the future of movies. James Cameron had this to say about learning about Avengers: Endgame becoming the highest grossing movie of all time.
“It gives me a lot of hope. Avengers: Endgame is demonstrable proof that people will still go to movie theaters. The thing that scared me most about making Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 was that the market might have shifted so much that it simply was no longer possible to get people that excited about going and sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers to watch something.”
There have been talks about rereleasing Avatar before the sequels hit theaters, which could give it the extra edge to beat Avengers: Endgame as the biggest movie of all time. However, James Cameron has his eyes set on the releases of Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 and wonders if they’ll be able to capture the success of the first installment or at the very least, come close to it. With the way the box office has started to fall off more each year, the director is unsure. He explains.
“Will Avatar 2 and 3 be able to create that kind of success in the zeitgeist? Who knows. We’re trying. Maybe we do, maybe we don’t, but the point is, it’s still possible. I’m happy to see it, as opposed to an alternate scenario where, with the rapid availability, custom-designed experience that everybody can create for themselves with streaming services and all the different platforms, that (theatrical potential) might not have existed anymore.”
Avengers: Endgame has proven to James Cameron that the box office juggernaut still exists. Disney has been proving that a lot over the last few years, though they haven’t been able to fully resuscitate the entire industry singlehandedly. With the rise of streaming at the epic shows telling stories over the course of 10+ hours, Cameron is a bit worried about the future of cinema, though he isn’t opposed to doing something for the small screen. He had this to say.
“I’m just glad it still exists because I’m all about the big screen… Not that I wouldn’t do something for streaming where you can get into the characters in a different way but what I love the most to do is to create that completely kind of subsuming experience where you turn off your phone and you engage. You as an audience member engage for two hours or two and a half hours, whatever it is. And that still exists!”
James Cameron still has a love of the big screen experience and he wants it to survive and evolve. Potential moviegoers have so much at their fingertips that it’s hard to compete with streaming when you can watch something from the comfort of your own home. But, nothing beats the excitement of experiencing something new and positive in a theater full of other movie fans, and Cameron knows that. The interview with James Cameron was originally conducted by Deadline.