The biggest movie of all time is officially Avengers: Endgame. But until a few weeks ago, the title of the all-time box office champ had belonged to James Cameron’s Avatar, which opened in 2009 and dethroned Cameron’s previous film, Titanic, for that prestigious honor.

When Avengers officially passed Avatar on the all-time box office list in July, Cameron sent a congratulatory tweet to Marvel Studios. Now, in a new interview with Deadline, he’s expanded on his feelings about no longer being able to lay claim to directing the biggest movie in history. You might assume Cameron was slightly miffed to drop to second place — but he insists he is actually “happy” about the whole thing.

Why? Cameron says Avengers’ monstrous success gives him “a lot of hope,” adding:

Avengers: Endgame is demonstrable proof that people will still go to movie theaters. The thing that scared me most about making Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 was that the market might have shifted so much that it simply was no longer possible to get people that excited about going and sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers to watch something.

Cameron has spent years developing four more Avatar sequels, first with Fox and now, after the company’s acquisition, with Disney. Cameron claims that while he would make something that would best be enjoyed on the small screen, what he loves most “is to create that completely kind of subsuming experience where you turn off your phone and you engage” and that Endgame becoming the biggest movie of all time proves “that still exists.”

And that makes sense. Of course, Cameron might not be so magnanimous if the Avatar sequels don’t get him his box office crown back in a couple years. Avatar 2 opens in theaters on December 17, 2021.

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