Star Wars: The Force Awakens can now claim top honor after it surpassed James Cameron’s Avatar as the highest grossing movie in America. Walt Disney sent out an official press release Wednesday around 4:30 pm, saying that the film has earned $770 million in its three-week run. Avatar ran in theaters for seven months and earned $760.5 million domestic gross.
Wednesday’s new record marks the first time in 18 years that a James Cameron movie isn’t at the top of the charts. Forbes notes that it is also the first time in forty years a James Cameron, George Lucas, or Steven Spielberg movie isn’t the biggest film in America.
Of course, there are a couple catches to the numbers. First, the J.J. Abrams Star Wars sequel received a bump from 3D showings, as well as IMAX/PLF. There’s also inflation to consider.
If you want to adjust for inflation, then The Force Awakens is really the 20th biggest movie in the United States, just below The Sting and The Lion King. Gone With the Wind earns top honors on that list.
However, many of the older films listed above The Force Awakens in the inflation list ran for years and existed when customers could only see them in theaters. Theaters were also among the few means of mass entertainment available to most customers in the years before cable, the internet, Netflix, and video games.
MSNBC adds that the global box office record still belongs to Avatar. The James Cameron film has earned nearly $2.8 billion since its release in 2009. The Star Wars sequel has earned $1.6 billion around the world so far, but those numbers will go up drastically when the movie debuts in China this weekend.
On the Star Wars official site, a message read, “We are proud of these records, but know that they would not be possible without fans’ enthusiasm and continued support.” With the amount of fans the franchise has, it’s possible the film could overtake Avatar on the world stage as well.