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Avatar returns to theaters: how much did it gross at the box office and which are the highest-grossing movies of all time?

The iconic 2009 film is back in cinemas this weekend in anticipation of the release of Avatar: The Way of Water in December.

Avatar returns to theaters

Later this year the long-awaited second instalment from the Avatar franchise, Avatar: The Way of Water, will be released in cinemas. The three-hour sci-fi epic will finally open in December, 13 years after James Cameron’s original hit the big screen.

Movie-goers are understandably excited after a more than decade-long wait, but to ramp up the anticipation even further the original will make a return to theaters this week.

In the first run more than a decade ago the original Avatar grossed $2.78 billion globally and has continued to add to that total with a number of regional rereleases. The latest rerelease is only expected to bring in between $7 million and $12 million in new revenue, but the process of reintroducing audiences to the biggest-grossing film of all time could be vital to the success of the sequel.

“Many questions have been asked about the film’s pop culture legacy over the past decade, but we also have to remember that James Cameron has been doubted before and proven many wrong,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.

Avatar retakes spot as the highest-grossing movie ever

The original Avatar was billed as a seismic shift for the movie industry, with ground-breaking use of special effects and new emphasis on 3D and IMAX technology for the cinema-going audience.

With so much anticipation it was little surprise that the film was an instant box office hit, becoming the fastest film to gross $750 million. Within just 39 days it had surpassed Titanic as the highest-grossest movie of all time, racking up an astonishing $1.86 billion in global ticket sales in less than six weeks.

“In just 39 days it has eclipsed the worldwide record,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the president of the Hollywood.com box-office division, at the time. “That’s extraordinarily impressive.”

For a time Avatar was knocked off top spot in the all-time rankings by Avenger: Endgame, which raked in an impressive $357 million in the first weekend of domestic opening alone. However Avatar has climbed back to the top of the pile and will likely add to that total in the coming weeks with the rerelease.

Here’s the top ten highest-grossing movies of all time…

1. Avatar (2009) - $2,847,397,339

2. Avengers: Endgame (2019) $2,797,501,328

3. Titanic (1997) $2,201,647,264

4. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) $2,069,521,700

5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) $2,048,359,754

6. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) $1,915,941,385

7. Jurassic World (2015) $1,671,537,444

8. The Lion King (2019) $1,663,250,487

9. The Avengers (2012) $1,518,815,515

10. Furious 7 (2015) $1,515,341,399