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Russo Brothers Thank James Cameron After Endgame Beats Avatar At Box Office

The King of the World is no longer the king of the box office.

In an Instagram post, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo offered a heartfelt thanks to James Cameron, whose films they said inspired them as youths, and whose 2009 epic Avatar their film recently dethroned as the all-time box office champion.

The Russos' post came after the official Twitter account for Avatar posted an artists' rendering of Iron Man surrounded by the lifeforms of the fictional planet of Pandora, where the action of Avatar and its forthcoming sequels takes place. "Oel ngati kameie," its caption read, invoking the native language of Pandora's alien race, the N'avi. "I see you, Marvel — congratulations to Avengers: Endgame on becoming the new box office king." The post was signed "Jim Cameron," and say what you will about that man, he is nothing if not a good sport.

The Russos responded in kind, with a series of cartoons depicting two shadowy figures — the filmmakers themselves, presumably — watching several of Cameron's iconic flicks in the theater, including The Terminator, Aliens, Titanic, and Avatar. (The sentiment being expressed by the pair, incidentally, is the same in every cartoon: "Holy sh*t!!!") The directors tagged Cameron's Instagram account in the caption, which read: "You're a monumental reason why we fell in love with film in the first place. Thank you for always inspiring us and opening the world's eyes to what's possible. We can't wait to see where you take us next..."

The love-fest wrapped up a months-long drama in which film fans waited with bated breath to see just what type of heights Endgame would ascend to. The 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe brought to a head the events of every movie that preceded it, which were all driven to one extent or another by the underlying narrative of the quest of the Mad Titan Thanos to collect all six Infinity Stones, primoridal gems which each control an aspect of the universe, and use them to wipe out half of all living things in a misguided effort to restore balance.

Endgame's journey to box office supremacy kicked off with a bang, as the flick grossed an eye-watering $1.2 billion dollars worldwide — a sterling total for the entire run of any normal superhero tentpole picture — in its opening weekend. By the time it had been in theaters for two weeks, Endgame had already unseated the #2 all-time worldwide grosser — Titanic, also directed by Cameron — with a $2.1 billion dollar global take.

At that time, Cameron was also quick to offer his congratulations, posting a picture of the Titanic (the actual ship) being upended by a giant, icy Avengers logo. "To Kevin [Feige] and everybody at Marvel," the caption read, "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!"

Endgame continued to slowly rake in the dollars throughout May and June, and just as it looked like it was getting ready to wind down — and with the July 2 release of Spider-Man: Far From Home approaching — Marvel's parent company Disney brought out the big guns. On June 28, Endgame got a theatrical re-release which included new footage, an unfinished deleted scene, and a sneak peek at Far From Home — even though the standard edition was still playing in multiplexes far and wide at the time.

The gambit apparently worked, as Endgame (currently standing at $2,790,591,417 dollars worldwide) squeaked by Avatar (which finished its run with a global take of $2,789,679,794 dollars) this past weekend. Of course, there may be a reason why Cameron is so gracious in defeat: Avatar 2 is set to hit screens in December 2020, and since it will have been over a decade since the original left theaters, it stands to reason that the former champ just might get a re-release of its own, which could conceivably put it back over the top.

Then again, with the film and television assets of Fox Studios having been recently acquired by Disney, Avatar is now the property of the entertainment megalith. Any hypothetical re-release would have to be given the greenlight by the Mouse House's brass — and considering the considerable effort expended by Disney to ensure that Endgame claimed the top spot, getting that greenlight would be a pretty neat trick.

Indeed, it's tough to picture any movie ever capturing the public imagination and raking in the beaucoup box office bucks in quite the same fashion that Endgame did. If any film ever does, however, we're going to go ahead and bet right now that it'll be preceded by a Marvel Studios logo.