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"Avengers" surpasses "Avatar" as highest-grossing film of all time

Disney's presentation of Marvel's "Avengers: Endgame" has officially surpassed "Avatar" to become the world's highest-grossing film of all time, several months after the film obliterated opening weekend records.

Why it matters: The feat underscores Disney's position as the king of the box office. Disney has had the top grossing movie every year since 2012 and been the top grossing studio since 2016.

By the numbers: Disney has reported an estimated $2,790.2 million in revenue through Sunday for "Avengers: Endgame," per Comscore. James Cameron's 2009 science fiction film "Avatar" had previously held the top spot of the highest grossing global release of all time with $2,789.7 million.

The big picture: Disney's success can largely be attributed to the three franchises that it has cultivated or acquired over the past few years: Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars.

  • Including content from Disney studios, Disney properties represent roughly 40% of the revenue from the top 100 top-grossing films.
  • Many of these films and franchises were acquired by Disney via its acquisition of most of 21 Century Fox's entertainment assets last year. Ironically, the Avatar franchise now sits within the Disney family ("Avatar 2" is set for release in 2021.).
Data: Box Office Mojo; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Bottom line: Avengers' success speaks to the power of cinema in driving revenue and cultural relevance for film. At a time where streaming movies is growing in popularity, it's notable that a modern film has been able to still break through at the box office.