* Director James Cameron has world's two biggest movies
* Box-office, critical success seen boosting Oscar chances
(Recasts adding premium 3-D prices, Oscar hopes)
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES, Jan 26 "Avatar" has surpassed
"Titanic" as the highest-grossing movie worldwide, giving
director James Cameron a remarkable double a week before his
sci-fi spectacular is expected to rack up a slew of Oscar
Gregg Brilliant, a spokesman for the News Corp
(NWSA.O)-owned studio 20th Century Fox, said on Tuesday the
worldwide box office total for "Avatar" stands at $1.859
billion, beating the $1.843 billion racked up by Cameron's
romantic drama "Titanic" in 1997-1998.
"Avatar" broke the record in a little over six weeks.
The film has enjoyed an unbroken reign in most countries,
including the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Russia,
Britain and Australia.
The data are not adjusted for inflation.
Ticket sales got an additional boost from premium prices
for 3-D screenings. Fox said 72 percent of worldwide sales come
from 3-D engagements.
The action-adventure movie, starring Sigourney Weaver, is
set in 2154 and tells the tale of a disabled ex-Marine sent to
Earth to infiltrate a race of 10-foot (3-metre) blue aliens and
persuade them to let his employer mine their homeland for
More than five years in the making, it was reportedly one
of the most expensive films with a budget of at least $300
million, due partly to its high-tech special effects and the
creation of a new language used by the extra-terrestrial Na'vi
Despite some industry skepticism last year, the movie was
released in December to glowing reviews and went on to win a
the Golden Globe for best drama earlier this month.
Tom O'Neil, an awards pundit at www.TheEnvelope.com, said
"Avatar" was not just a sure bet for a best picture Academy
Award nomination on Feb. 2, but a leading contender to win the
top Oscar on March 7. It is also expected to dominate the
"It is the Oscar front-runner," O'Neil told Reuters. "It
won the Golden Globe, it has conquered the global box office
and it has won universal praise."
"The only cliffhanger is, will the notorious snobs in the
Academy finally appreciate sci-fi?," he said, noting that a
science fiction movie has never won a best picture Oscar.
(Additional reporting by Dean Goodman)