ComingSoon.net reports that James Cameron’s Avatar has reached $1.02 billion at the worldwide box office after just 17 days, surpassing the $1 billion earned by The Dark Knight in 2008. It also broke Spider-Man‘s third weekend record domestically:
James Cameron’s Avatar (20th Century Fox) continues to be one of the biggest box office phenomenons of the decade–much like Titanic in the prior decade–having grossed $350 million after just 17 days and crossing the one billion mark worldwide. It set a new Near Year’s Day weekend box office record with its estimated $68.3 million, down just 10% from Christmas weekend and making it the highest third weekend gross for a movie domestically (surpassing the $45 million made by Spider-Man in 2002).
By next weekend, Cameron’s comeback will hit the $400 million mark and by next Sunday, it should pass Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to become the highest-grossing movie of 2009, as well as breaking into the Top 10 highest-grossing movies (domestically) of all time.
Internationally, Avatar has grossed $670.2 million which brings its worldwide total to $1.02 billion, making it the fourth-highest grossing movie worldwide EVER, and that’s after being in theaters for only 17 days, too. It has surpassed the worldwide gross for The Dark Knight and only needs $46 million more to beat Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. (Currently, Cameron’s Titanic still holds the worldwide grossing record with $1.84 billion with $600 million of that domestically.)
What’s so remarkable about the movie’s success, besides how much of that money is being made in 3D and IMAX venues (with many daily sell-outs still being reported ), is that Avatar is also the biggest non-sequel since George Lucas’ original Star Wars and Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. By the end of January, it should have surpassed both of their non-adjusted box office takes. It’s still a few days behind Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which had the benefits of opening in summer, while Avatar will be facing moviegoers’ return to school and work starting tomorrow, so we’ll have to see whether it can cross the $533 million mark to become the second-highest grossing movie after Cameron’s own Titanic.