James Cameron's Avatar and Titanic Hold Weird Records (Not What You Think)

James Cameron's "Avatar" and "Titanic" are among the top-grossing films, but they have very different track records than the other top films.

As two of the three highest-grossing films of all time, Titanic and Avatar hold multiple box office records, but the one that really sets them apart from the rest isn't what you'd expect . While both films were directed by James Cameron, there are many other similarities between the box office behavior of Avatar and Titanic, and these similarities feature in this list of the 10 highest-grossing films of all time Stands out from the rest of the film.

Avatar's $2.9 billion and Titanic's $2.2 billion at the box office are impressive enough in their own right, but the way they achieved those numbers is fundamentally different from any of the other top 10 films. Even though they both became the highest-grossing films of all time (Titanic later slipped to third), those two films actually had the lowest opening weekend earnings of any top 10 film, by a wide margin.

Avatar and Titanic Had Smaller Opening Weekend Box Office Than Any Other Top 10 Movie

While the average opening weekend for each of the non-Cameron films in the top 10 was $234.7 million, Avatar opened with just $77 million (33% of the average), Titanic The film's debut grossed $28.6 million. Avengers: Endgame had its biggest opening weekend ever with $357.1 million, It accounted for 41 percent of its $2.8 billion worldwide gross. Among the 10 highest-grossing films, the average opening weekend for non-Cameron movies was 35 percent of the domestic total. Meanwhile, Avatar's $77 million made up 9.8 percent of its $2.9 billion total, while Titanic's $28.6 million took just 4.3 percent.

What Avatar and Titanic's Box Office Performance Means For Avatar: The Way of Water's Potential

Box office analysis has traditionally measured opening weekends as a percentage of grosses as a "multiplier", which is multiplied by the opening weekend to give the gross. The multiplier for Avengers Endgame is 2.4. The average multiplier for the top 10 non-Cameron films is 2.91. "Avatar" is 9.81, and "Titanic" is an astonishing 23. James Cameron's eight films averaged an astonishingly high multiplier of 9.89, but even after factoring out the huge multipliers of Avatar and Titanic, the average was still 7.2, while the top 10 films of all time (not including Cameron films) averaged 2.91.

It's doubtful that Avatar: Way of Water matched Cameron's 9.89 average, turning its $134 million opening haul into $1.3 billion domestic, surpassing Star Wars: The Originals. The Force Awakens' $936.7 million. "Avatar: Way of Water" expects 30-35% of its revenue to come from domestic sources, That absurdly brings the total well over $4 billion. Had it matched Cameron's lowest multiplier, 6.65 from True Lies, at 30-35 of its worldwide total, it would have made a much lower total of $2.2 billion to $2.6 billion. So, even if it can't match the historical multipliers of Avatar or Titanic, Avatar: Way of Water is clearly on its way to a massive box office hit.

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