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'Avengers: Endgame' Surpasses 'Avatar' To Become Box Office King

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Hollywood just crowned a new box-office champion.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AVENGERS: ENDGAME")

CHRIS EVANS: (As Captain America) Avengers...

(SOUNDBITE OF DRAMATIC MUSIC)

EVANS: (As Captain America) Assemble.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE YELLING)

MARTIN: Oh, it was another mammoth weekend at the box office for "Avengers: Endgame," which has now grossed $2.79 billion around the world. That is just enough to make it the highest-grossing movie of all time, overtaking this film.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AVATAR")

STEPHEN LANG: (As Colonel Miles Quaritch) You're not in Kansas anymore. You are on Pandora, ladies and gentlemen.

MARTIN: Now, if that clip doesn't sound familiar, don't feel too bad. It is James Cameron's 3D fantasy epic, "Avatar," which had held the top spot for a decade. But according to writers like Kevin Fallon, despite all of "Avatar's" box office success, the film has left a relatively small cultural footprint. He's the senior entertainment reporter for The Daily Beast, and he joins us now on Skype.

Hey, Kevin.

KEVIN FALLON: Hello.

MARTIN: So how come? I mean, you wrote in this piece that "Avatar" is our greatest pop culture joke. That's intense, man. I mean, this was a box-office hit for 10 years. It got good reviews. It received nine Academy Award nominations.

FALLON: It's also a movie that I don't think we've ever thought about in the last 10 years. It's really wild to me that this movie that broke this box-office record is a movie that really has no pop culture imprint or legacy.

MARTIN: How do you measure that? How do you measure the cultural imprint? I mean, a lot of people still like it.

FALLON: I'm sure they do, but it's not talked about in any real, tangible way. It certainly hasn't - well, and it's spawning sequels, but those sequels - part of the pop culture joke is that they're being delayed and delayed and delayed and delayed. You know, I think that if you ask someone what the plot of this movie was, or ask them for a famous line or...

MARTIN: Yeah. That's true.

FALLON: ...What a character name was, they wouldn't know.

MARTIN: Right. People don't go around quoting it, like...

FALLON: Exactly.

MARTIN: ...You know, incessantly, like we do with things that really capture the zeitgeist of a moment, or something. But can you just remind us about what did work about that film in 2009? It was a big deal, technologically, wasn't it?

FALLON: It was. And it was all the technology. It is a rare movie to make the case that you have to see it in theaters. And because of that, you know, it's one of the rare movies that everyone went to see at least once and then spawned that that really needed fan base would go see it over, and over and over again.

MARTIN: We should say it revitalized 3D.

FALLON: Exactly. And whereas we saw a huge boom in 3D movies and we saw the backlash to 3D movies, and it's all because of what "Avatar" did.

MARTIN: So Disney now owns "Avatar's" distribution company, 20th Century Fox. And according to James Cameron, as you noted, there are still four "Avatar" sequels to look forward to. If you're Disney, how do you market these films? How do you differentiate them?

FALLON: I mean, I think you go back to what worked. And as we said, it's the technology. You know, the reason that "The Avengers" got to be the success that it was is because there was 22 other movies that are part of its legacy. And I think that when the sequels come out, they'll go back to the original "Avatar" and start talking about what it was that made it work. And that, again, is the technology.

MARTIN: Right. Because "Avatar" was good, Kevin. There. I said it.

FALLON: (Laughter) I don't believe you.

MARTIN: (Laughter). Kevin Fallon is the senior entertainment editor for The Daily Beast. Don't at me, everyone. Kevin, thank you so much.

FALLON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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