Avengers: Endgame Is The Top-Grossing Movie Of All Time - With One Caveat

You kind of need to squint.

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Now Playing: Marvel Studios Comic-Con 2019 Panel Reactions | SDCC 2019

After looking as if it would fall short despite a second push at the box office, Avengers: Endgame has officially broken the record to become the highest-grossing movie of all time. Marvel Studios announced that it had broken the record at its panel at Comic-Con, telling fans the movie has topped the $2.78 billion mark worldwide. But that record hinges on taking the numbers at their face value; analyzed a different way, and Endgame's record is a little less secure.

Endgame was a box office powerhouse when it released back in April, dragging in a near record-breaking amount of money--but despite its monster opening, the movie wasn't quite able to take the box office earnings record from another enormous movie: director James Cameron's Avatar. According to Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, that situation as changed, however, with Disney announcing at San Diego Comic-Con that Endgame has overtaken Avatar's box office record. "I literally just heard from our folks at Disney Distribution that Avengers: Endgame will be the biggest film of all time," Feige said during the Marvel Studios panel in Comic-Con's Hall H.

As noted above, there is a catch, though.

"You have to shout out to [Avatar director] James Cameron--if you adjust for inflation he still holds that title, but right now, thanks to you folks in Hall H, Avengers: Endgame is the biggest film of all time," Feige said.

That means that in straight numbers, Endgame has surpassed Avatar's total box office take of $2.78 billion. But as Feige mentioned, the world was different in 2009, when Avatar was released, and inflation means that $2.78 billion was worth more then than it is now.

You might also recall that Disney and Marvel Studios worked pretty hard to get that record out of Cameron's hands. The company returned Endgame to theaters on June 28 with a small amount of extra footage added on the end, so it could soak up even more money. Before its "farewell" tour, Endgame had only raked in $2.74 billion. Still, a record is a record, and Disney fought to take this one. That said, the movie it topped is now--by virtue of the 21st Century Fox acquisition--under the same Disney umbrella as Marvel.

For more on what we learned on Saturday night, check out our wrap-up of everything we learned during Marvel Studios' Comic-Con panel.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for rejlive
REJLIVE

Adjusted for inflation is irrelevant when comparing Avatar to Endgame. Most of Avatars tickets were 3D and were more expensive than even today's standard tickets. Avatar sold so many mostly due to the lack of competition in said 3D theaters and not much competition in standard either. Endgame has actually sold more tickets worldwide than Avatar, which makes the inflation argument weak for Avatar. Not to mention Endgame has made more money in a fraction of the time. Another misconception is that Avatar has had only one re-release, when in fact it has had two. One was similar to Endgames re-release, but only made 5.5 mil, and did not have extra content added until several months later when it was re-released again with the extra footage, and made 30 mil more. Endgame has managed to make even more in its first re-release than Avatars two re-releases combined. So dont be surprised if Endgame has a proper re-release in the future with all deleted scenes finished. Should solidify Endgame as the #1 for years to come. Avatar wouldn't even make 2 bil if it had its 3D theaters taken away like what happens to movies today. Caveat for Endgame? I can think of quite a few caveats for Avatar.

Avatar image for techaspike
TECHASPiKE

That's a very silly caveat. Adjusted for inflation, Gone With the Wind beats both of these films for the highest grossing film.

Plus Avatar also re-released and had higher-than-normal priced tickets due to the 3D theaters. These numbers are all meaningless.

Avatar image for iloveqwop
Iloveqwop

@techaspike: Yes there are 10+ movies ahead of both of these, making it not a "silly" caveat (wtf?) but a much closer representation of the amount of people that saw it.

1995 tickets were <5, today they are 3x as much. You realize that means revenue also goes up 3x...right?

Avatar image for techaspike
TECHASPiKE

@iloveqwop: I think maybe you didn't understand my post. Despite your combative tone, you seem to be saying the same thing as me.

People arguing that this isn't a win for Endgame because inflation was ignored is a silly caveat BECAUSE it had to be ignored for Avatar to be in the number 1 spot as well.

Inflation should NOT be ignored but that should apply across the board. If it's selectively brought up to take away Endgame's victory . . . than it is a silly caveat.

So just relax, my man ^_^

Avatar image for returnofthebrotha
ReturnoftheBrotha

Adjusted for inflation shows the TRUE impact/effect and cultural phenomenons that the top films were, not what they do now. The list as it is now, did not have the impact/effect like the adjusted flicks! All of those in the top ten stayed on people's minds decades are they were released. The only except/deception, was The Force Awakens, which only made money on hype and using the original cast.

Avatar image for rejlive
REJLIVE

@returnofthebrotha: So what exactly is your point? Kind of hard to be on peoples minds for decades when its only been released for a few months (Endgame) and a few years (Star Wars TFA). Stupid comparison. If you are going to pretend to type smart, at least proof read your statement before you make yourself look stupid, numb nutz.

Avatar image for iloveqwop
Iloveqwop

@gamepass1: Can you explain how in 1978 every movie theater in America had lines that went down sidewalk, wrapped around the building? This was when Star Wars came out.

I havent seen any lines or any waits for any of these movie.

So if you dont understand that inflation is the ONLY logical "meat in the seats" analysis when looking at a phenomenon from 40 years ago, can you explain to me what you do actually know about this?

PS: and yes, I said EVERY theater.

Avatar image for zmanbarzel
ZmanBarzel

@iloveqwop: "Can you explain how in 1978 every movie theater in America had lines that went down sidewalk, wrapped around the building?...I havent seen any lines or any waits for any of these movie."

The reason you don't see lines like that anymore is that, well, movie-goers don't have to do that when there are so many theaters. According to NATO, there are nearly twice as many movie screen in North America now as there were in 1987. If you mentally follow the numbers as you go back to that year and then extrapolate an additional 10 years to1977-78, you could estimate about 15K screens, about a third as many as there are now.

Avatar image for rtchidc
rtchidc

@zmanbarzel: There's also the fact that there are more multiplexes, with more screens per multiplex, than there were decades ago. Many of the multiplexes show the anticipated big blockbusters on several screens simultaneously, so they can begin the same movie at intervals of an hour or less all day, for however many days or weeks until audiences dwindle.

Additionally, a big reason why movie theaters no longer have lines down the street for tickets is because audiences generally no longer buy their movie theater tickets at a walk-up box office with one or two cashiers inside (that's where the term "box office" originates). Those lines down the block were usually filled with people waiting to buy tickets at the box office, not just to enter the building. Most movie theaters now have their ticket purchase stations and ticket line areas completely inside the building, with multiple cashiers handling ticket sales as needed. Additionally, people can buy tickets online and bring the printouts to the theater, or show them to the ticket takers on their phones.

I'm old enough to remember lines around a four-screen movie theater for movies like "E.T." in 1982. However, I haven't seen anything like that since the early 1990s.

Avatar image for zmanbarzel
ZmanBarzel

@rtchidc: Good points!

And I should add: by no means was my original reply skeptical in nature regarding the draw of "Star Wars" in 1977-78. "Phenomenon" doesn't even come close to describing the way it landed. (And I remember "E.T." being similar in '82.)

Avatar image for TrueLink
TrueLink

To be fair, inflation gets trickier with worldwide grosses. Not all countries inflate at the same rate, and some have experienced deflation or other changes. There are other major factors changing all over the world. It's just too many variables. That's why it's generally not factored into worldwide grosses.

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Avatar image for rejlive
REJLIVE

@TrueLink: No, they dont factor inflation because the movie made what it made when it made it.

Avatar image for cajunstrike
cajunstrike

Inflation factors would be avoided altogether if they simply counted the actual number of tickets sold for each movie. For example, the best selling/most popular car is the one that sells the most units, not the one that makes the most revenue. Both could certainly be the case, but not certain why this methodology was ever adopted for box office sales.

Avatar image for rejlive
REJLIVE

@cajunstrike: If thats the case, Endgame wins, because it has been established to have sold more tickets than Avatar. Due to standard tickets today being cheaper than Avatars 3D tickets, it took more for Endgame to become #1

Avatar image for TrueLink
TrueLink

@cajunstrike: It would be nice if we had these numbers. I'm surprised studios don't report it. I wonder if Endgame would have the lead in gross ticket sales due to so much of Avatar's money came from premium ticket surcharges for 3D?

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Avatar image for rejlive
REJLIVE

@TrueLink: Thats the ticket

Avatar image for streamline
streamline

It’s a push or get Avatar fans or MCU haters to come out and beat it when Avatar 2 comes out. :D

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kimcruz05

I saw this coming. Congrats Avengers: Endgame. Highest grossing movie of all time. Visit https://www.shawarmachine.com for more news

Avatar image for howlingfantod
HowlingFantod

To be fair, Avatar re-released as well. And Disney owns both properties, doesn't it? So fighting to get it out of Cameron's hands likely didn't mean all that much to Disney. Marvel, sure.

Avatar image for CRAPCOM1926
CRAPCOM1926

none of this movies are better than Terminator 2 the judgement day.

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

@CRAPCOM1926: Yeah, I don't get why they think avatar is better than that one. I wonder wich one makes James more proud regardless of commercial success.

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Cherub1000

I like bananas with my pancakes

Avatar image for ender003
ender003

Maybe a better metric would be to judge from tickets sold.

Avatar image for blondie_82
blondie_82

No, gone with the wind is the biggest film of all time.

Avatar image for rejlive
REJLIVE

@blondie_82: Farts Gone with the Wind sucks, the best part of that movie is not watching it. Giving that movie the inflation advantage is an insult to every atom in this universe. I would rather watch Rats Night of Terror (1984) 100 times than watch that ever again

Avatar image for maralzo
Maralzo

Also Avatar's theatrical run was 34 weeks. Endgame so far is just shy of just 13 weeks.

Avatar image for monkyby87
monkyby87

Most importantly, Endgame is a good movie without gimmicks. Avatar is good with gimmicks. The gimmick being 3D.

Avatar image for maralzo
Maralzo

@monkyby87:

The gimmick being 3D and a full marketing reliance on James Cameron's name. Meanwhile Endgame was popular because of its story and the universe that 20+ preceding films built. I think that a movie that isn't really a standalone title - and technically less accessible than Avatar for the a casual viewer - achieving the highest gross is a much more impressive achievement.

Avatar image for iloveqwop
Iloveqwop

@maralzo: Nope.

Making an original IP that takes a coveted world record in ONE film absolutely decimates anything comparable. Even the record itself. Stop and think.

Avatar image for rejlive
REJLIVE

@iloveqwop: I stopped, I thought. YEAH, "Avatar" about soldiers going to an alien world to fight aliens, how original. OH wait, "Aliens", also a James Cameron movie about soldiers going to an alien world to fight aliens. Not so impressive now huh?

Avatar image for iloveqwop
Iloveqwop

@rejlive: It has absolutely no affect on how I feel...

Dehhhrrrrr nOt So IMpReSsIvE nOw... Huh?

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

@iloveqwop: yeah, but their points are good too.

Avatar image for rswsc0407
rswsc0407

What they never mention regarding Avatar is that like 75% of the money it made was from it being in 3d. Say it was $5 a ticket normally, seeing it in 3d it was like $15-20 in comparison.

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@rswsc0407: $5? You from the 1950's?

Avatar image for rswsc0407
rswsc0407

@Bread_or_Decide: I was just throwing random numbers in tbh. Though where I live in MA matines for the local theatre is still $5.

Avatar image for angelbless
angelbless

@Bread_or_Decide: I´m pretty sure he is converting that amount from his local currency. If so, and he lives, lets say in SA, then it is correct.

Avatar image for streamline
streamline

@angelbless: Wow, it’s that cheap in San Antonio. Great!

Avatar image for nedrith
nedrith

@angelbless: Even then, I want to say my local movie theater was something like $7 for a movie, $10 for 3D when Avatar came out. Nowhere near 3-4x the cost of a normal movie.

Avatar image for matman01
matman01

Yes, Endgame is behind Avatar on the adjusted for inflation scale - but to put this in perspective they occupy positions 16 and 15 respectively on that list, both with less than half the revenue of the leader (Gone with the wind). Also, as others have pointed out, adjusting for inflation is a blunt tool for comparing historical revenues as it cannot take into account other social and economic factors such as the fact there were fewer alternative entertainment forms in 1939 when GWTW came out.

Avatar image for rejlive
REJLIVE

@matman01: You cant spend adjusted for inflation money. Its not real, thats why they dont crown a champion with it. Movies get old, deal with it.

Avatar image for rtchidc
rtchidc

@matman01: Yep. There was nothing else like movies in 1939. There was no television. Additionally, there was a lot less air conditioning. And if a theater had air conditioning, nearly four hours of that was an extra selling point.

Avatar image for dr_vancouver
Dr_Vancouver

I'm guessing that Avatar might not have adjusted for inflation when it took #1. Whatev, if u ain't first you're last. Love u 3000 TS <3

Avatar image for idakooz
idakooz

Basically there's an asterisk next to the record. Just like with Barry Bonds homerun king record. But just looking at it face value, Endgame is the king.

Avatar image for rejlive
REJLIVE

@idakooz: There is no *, just ignorant fools unable or unwilling to accept the fact that MARVEL is now top of the box office food chain. Not just over DC, but over the WHOLE DAMN THING. I predicted this some what, back in 1990s when the Infinity Gauntlet comic series was released. After reading it, I knew if they ever made a movie based on it. That movie would be very successful. BUT DAMN I didn't expect this

Avatar image for Welverin
Welverin

@idakooz: No, because Hollywood doesn't adjust for inflation (they only care about the money made, not how many people saw it) and things returning to theaters and the additional money is always counted.

Avatar itself had multiple releases.

Avatar image for iloveqwop
Iloveqwop

@Welverin: lol. Everyone cares about inflation.

Ticket prices were less than 5 dollars when Titanic was out, now they are 3x more. Its very simple actually.

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