It took nearly 22 years, but the monumental box office record set by Titanic has finally gone down, and believe it or not James Cameron’s being a good sport about it. The 1997 historical epic famously launched to bad buzz, owing to a troubled, lengthy, and expensive production. But Cameron ultimately had the last laugh, as the film continued performing at the box office week after week (it was literally #1 for four straight months), until it eventually became the highest grossing film of all time worldwide—and on top of that, won 11 Oscars including Best Picture.
For years, it looked as though nothing could top Titanic, and indeed the only thing that did was yet another James Cameron movie, Avatar. But last month, with the release of Avengers: Endgame, the worldwide box office record of $2.187 billion has finally been eclipsed.
Cameron took to Twitter to congratulate Marvel and producer/Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige specifically on their achievement, as Avengers: Endgame has now grossed $2.272 billion worldwide and counting in just two and a half weeks of release.
To Kevin and Everybody at Marvel,
An iceberg sank the real Titanic. It took The Avengers to sink my Titanic. Everyone here at Lightstorm Entertainment salutes your amazing achievement. You’ve shown that the movie industry is not only alive and well, it’s bigger than ever!
The famously competitive Cameron seems fine and well with Avengers: Endgame toppling the Titanic record, but perhaps that’s because he’s still sitting pretty with that #1 spot for Avatar, which stands at an astounding $2.788 billion worldwide. Will Endgame surpass that decade-old record? It’s possible, but not yet guaranteed.
Regardless, it really is something that Titanic held on to the #2 spot for so long. If you look at the list of the highest grossing films of all time, the Top 10 is filled with films from the 2010s save for Cameron’s two movies, and beyond that the next highest-grossing movie from the 90s is 1993’s Jurassic Park, which sits at #33 with $1.029 billion. And yet there was Titanic, from way back in 1997, sitting pretty and untouchable with $2.187 billion. And of course when you adjust for inflation, that number—and record—is even bigger.
So good on James Cameron for being a good sport, and let’s all take a minute to ruminate on just how unprecedented that Titanic record was. The movie didn’t explode on opening weekend and go downhill from there. It opened modestly, but audiences kept going and going and going, building its box office up over the ensuing months. That kind of slow climb to the top is unlikely to ever happen again.
— James Cameron (@JimCameron) May 9, 2019