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The 10 Highest-Grossing Sequels of All Time

Last Updated: April 26, 2023
Aligning with Avatar’s long-awaited sequel, we’re breaking down the highest-grossing sequels and what the sci-fi film needs to do to top the list (again).

Avatar hit theaters 13 years ago, and the science fiction box office hit grossed $2.89 billion. Debuting in 2009, the James Cameron-directed, written, co-edited, and co-produced science fiction film became a blockbuster hit almost instantly and received critical acclaim following its winter release date.

The technologically advanced film highlights life in an upscale extraterrestrial world called Pandora while also addressing real-world issues such as race relations, a rising revolution, and the destruction of natural habitats. Avatar took the box office by storm when it made it to theaters on Dec. 18, 2009, and still holds the top spot as the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide. Avatar was written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Cameron, who reprised his behind-the-scenes role in Avatar‘s next installment.

There have been many delays for Avatar‘s much-anticipated sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, but fans can finally breathe easy since the film hit theaters on Dec. 16, nearly 13 years to the day Avatar dropped. But brace yourselves, Avatar: The Way of Water‘s runtime is three hours and 12 minutes.

Creator: Courtesy of 20th Century Studios | Credit: Courtesy of 20th Century Studios
Copyright: © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Will Avatar: The Way of Water follow in its predecessor’s footsteps and claim the top spot as the highest-grossing sequel ever? Here’s a brief breakdown of the follow-up flick’s competition.

The 10 Highest-grossing Movie Sequels of All Time

Reflects worldwide box office results courtesy of The Numbers.

  1. Avengers: Endgame (2019): $2.79 billion
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015): $2.06 billion
  3. Avengers: Infinity War (2018): $2.04 billion
  4. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): $1.91 billion
  5. Jurassic World (2015): $1.66 billion
  6. Furious 7 (2015): $1.51 billion
  7. Top Gun: Maverick (2022): $1.48 billion
  8. Frozen II (2019): $1.44 billion
  9. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): $1.39 billion
  10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017): $1.33 billion

Critics predicted that Avatar: The Way of Water will bring in roughly $550 million for its global box office debut this weekend. The film brought in $435 million globally over the weekend, according to Variety, which is over $100 million shy of predictions and way under the global $600 million that Spider-Man: No Way Home attracted during its opening weekend last year. Avatar: The Way of Water tied with The Batman in fifth place for the biggest opening weekend of 2022.

Domestically, Avatar: The Way of Water grossed $134 million over the weekend, which is much more than Avatar, which only attracted $77 million during its debut weekend.

To top the list for the highest-grossing sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water will need to reach $2 billion and then some to even be considered. Reports suggest that Avatar‘s sequel had a budget in the $250 to $350 million range, but Cameron wouldn’t confirm that number and instead told GQ Magazine that the film is “very fucking expensive.”

With big shoes to fill as the sequel to the highest-grossing movie in global history, Avatar: The Way of Water still has plenty of time to climb to the top. We’ll be crunching the numbers to see how the film stacks over the next couple of weeks.

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About The Author
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.