'Avatar' is No. 2 all-time worldwide grosser

8:54 AM PST 01/07/2010 by Carl DiOrio, AP

Surpasses 'Return of the King's' $1.12 billion tally

"Avatar" continues to outperform expectations.

Just days ago, execs suggested the Fox-distributed pic was a lock to reach No. 2 on the all-time list of worldwide boxoffice hits by next week.

Incredibly, the forecast proved too conservative.

On Wednesday, "Avatar" passed the $1.12 billion tally by 2003's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" to become the second-highest worldwide grosser ever. James Cameron's sci-fi epic headed into Thursday with a domestic cume of $374.4 million and a foreign cume of $760.8 million, for wordwide boxoffice totaling $1.14 billion and counting.

Cameron's "Titanic" is the all-time top worldwide grosser, ringing up $1.84 billion in 1997-1998.

"Avatar" -- which has overachieved most dramatically overseas since unspooling mid-December -- now also is poised to hit the top 10 list of all-time top domestic grossers.

On Thursday, the pic will pass No. 10 domestic grosser "Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith," which rung up $380.3 in 2005. But by the end of the coming weekend, "Avatar" should climb significantly higher in the ranks of all-time domestic hits.
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