It has been more than a decade since James Cameron's Avatar was released, and the epic movie has reclaimed its box office crown.
It was knocked off the highest-grossing movie of all time slot by Marvel's Avengers: Endgame, but a re-release in China theatres this week has changed that.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, it earned more than $US8 million (NZ$11m) in China this weekend alone, putting the box office total for the 2009 movie at $US2.8 billion, compared to Endgame's total of $US2.797 billion.
The film's producer Jon Landau said: "We are proud to reach this great milestone, but Jim and I are most thrilled that the film is back in theatres during these unprecedented times, and we want to thank our Chinese fans for their support. We are hard at work on the next Avatar films and look forward to sharing the continuation of this epic story for years to come."
The Avatar and Marvel Twitter accounts acknowledged the milestone.
"Irayo to our fans in China for coming out to see Avatar on the big screen this weekend! This crown belongs to Na'vi Nation - it couldn't have happened without you. @jonlandau @JimCameron," The official Avatar account posted.
And Marvel Studio's account congratulated Cameron and Landau.
Endgame directors, the Russo brothers, wrote: "Passing the gauntlet back to you... @JimCameron."
Avatar fans are eagerly awaiting the planned sequels to the film, which is being worked on in Wellington.
Last September, Landau spoke to The Detail podcast about how the Avatar productions were affected by the pandemic.
He said of the more than 30 crew gaining border exemptions last May: "These are the people that will unlock the door to millions of dollars flowing into the economy."
"The plan was always to do the live-action work here in New Zealand. We were here last year for about six months ... and the plan was to return in March . Lo and behold the week we were supposed to be travelling the pandemic arose and we made the decision not to come even before your borders were restricted."
Later that same month, Cameron gave an Avatar update during an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"Covid hit us like it hit everybody, it hit us hard," Cameron said. He said at the time the pandemic meant the films lost four or five months of production.
"Where we are right now - I'm down in New Zealand shooting. We're shooting the remainder of the live-action, we've got about 10 per cent left to go. We're 100 per cent complete on Avatar 2, and we're sort of 95 per cent on Avatar 3."
Cameron also praised New Zealand's Covid-19 response: "We're very lucky in that we chose this as our production site years ago, we made the first film here in New Zealand. It turns out to be the first or second-best country in the world for its Covid response."
"We're able to shoot, we're able to operate, and we're able to have more or less a normal life here. We were very fortunate, so I don't see any roadblocks to us getting the picture finished."
The highly anticipated first sequel to 2009 epic is scheduled for release in December 2022.