Disney’s Historic Blockbuster Overtaken By Universal’s Latest Hit

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Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in Avatar: The Way of Water

Credit: 20th Century Studios

A historical run from Disney and 20th Century Studios’ Avatar franchise has come to an end.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in 'Avatar: The Way of Water' (2022). Credit: Disney
Credit: Disney

Adjusted for inflation, Avatar (2009) is the second-highest-grossing movie of all time, only behind Gone with the Wind (1939). The film became the first to gross more than $2 billion– bringing in more than $2.9 billion worldwide– and was the best-selling title of 2010 in the U.S. However, as 20th Century Studios and Disney went about making the sequel to the James Cameron-led franchise, there were some who questioned if the franchise could be successful with such a long layoff.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) completely blew the box office out of the water and has impressively surpassed $2.1 billion globally. The sequel included Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Stephen Lang, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Giovanni Ribisi, Dileep Rao, and Matt Gerald reprising their roles from the original film, with Sigourney Weaver returning in an additional role.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his son in Avatar: The Way of Water
Credit: 20th Century Studios

The film has been at the top of the box office for several weeks since its release back in December, and it took a Universal Pictures movie to finally topple it.

Knock at the Cabin (2023) was the movie that finally took down Avatar: The Way of Water, bringing in a total of $14.2 million from more than 3,000 theaters domestically. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the movie was still the worst North American opening of any of his films.

The film follows the story of a girl and her parents who are on vacation at a cabin. They are taken hostage by armed strangers who demand that the family make a choice to avert the apocalypse. Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, newcomer Kristen Cui, Abby Quinn, and Rupert Grint all star in the film.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his son in Avatar: The Way of Water
Credit: 20th Century Studios

What has been so impressive is that it took this long for Avatar to finally be overtaken. It’s understandable that there haven’t been many major releases in the rest of December and through January, but for the film to remain at the top of the box office for as long as it did shows just how popular the franchise is and why Avatar 3 is already in the works.

What do you think of Avatar‘s impressive staying power? Let us know in the comments!

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