Disney's ‘Avengers’ to topple ‘Avatar’ from top-grossing film's perch on Sunday

Superhero saga has now taken in $2.79bn in cinemas worldwide as of Friday, just $500,000 short of James Cameron’s film

A scene from the 2019 motion picture 'Avengers: Endgame'. Walt Disney Studios
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Avengers: Endgame, the concluding chapter in the Marvel superhero saga from Walt Disney, is set to topple James Cameron's Avatar on Sunday to become the highest-grossing film of all time.

Disney re-released the film with new footage in late June for a final push as Endgame closed in on the record.

It has now taken in $2.79 billion (Dh10.2bn) in theatres worldwide as of Friday, the company said, just $500,000 short of Avatar.

"Endgame will close this gap by tomorrow," Disney said in a statement on Saturday.

Grabbing the No 1 spot caps an extraordinary run for Marvel and the Avengers in particular.

The four pictures in the superhero mash-up averaged $652.5 million in domestic ticket sales, and the 23 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, dating back to Iron Man in 2008, rank as the top-grossing movie franchise.

The Marvel characters have continued their run of successes this summer with Sony's Spider-Man: Far From Home dominating theatres now. As of July 14, the film had taken in $847m in worldwide ticket sales.

Disney punched up the re-release of Endgame with a tribute to the late Marvel pioneer Stan Lee, an unfinished scene and a sneak peek at a scene in Far From Home. Fans also got an exclusive poster.

Disney has had a run of box-office successes built around Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar movies that have made it the industry leader.

With its acquisition of 21st Century Fox properties for $71bn this year, Disney will also be home to Avatar sequels that Cameron plans to begin rolling out in 2021.

In inflation-adjusted terms, Endgame ranks No 16 on the all-time list, according to Box Office Mojo. Gone With the Wind, released in 1939, tops the list on that basis.

Marvel also revealed a new slate of films on Saturday, reassuring fans that the most successful film series in Hollywood history will continue for years.

After many years of speculation, the studio confirmed Black Widow, a film focused on the female character, was slated for May 2020.

That was widely expected among fans, as was the scheduling of The Eternals for November next year.

Some surprises included Natalie Portman's return to the franchise as a female Thor in the fourth installment called Thor: Love and Thunder.

A second Doctor Strange movie is planned, along with the unexpected reboot of Blade, naming Oscar winner Mahershala Ali in the role.

Diversity was at the forefront with dating of Shang Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings, its first Asian superhero movie.

It also named new series led by popular characters Loki and Hawkeye, and animated Marvel shows for its new streaming service Disney+.

Marvel president Kevin Feige, who made the announcements on Saturday at Comic-Con, had signalled that future films would feature the most diverse cast of superheroes ever.

In March, the company released Captain Marvel, played by Brie Larson, the first female superhero in the series to star in her own film.

Marvel has also made it clear that African-American actor Anthony Mackie will take over the Captain America role.

Fans at the annual conclave in San Diego for comic-book devotees were looking for clues about the future of the series after Endgame concluded a story line that began with the first Iron Man film in 2008.