A photo of Titanic director James CameronGetty / Icon Sportswire

How did James Cameron react when Avengers stole Titanic’s box office record?

The Titanic director took the news surprisingly well...

Harvey Day
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When big time director James Cameron found out that Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame had sunk Titanic’s record at the box office - becoming the second-biggest movie of all time - you might have imagined he’d be, perhaps, a little peeved.

But, it turns out, the Canadian filmmaker wasn’t mad at all - and he even sent Marvel president Kevin Feige a pretty cool message of congratulations.

After two weekends of release, Avengers: Endgame has surpassed Cameron’s 1997 epic romance film, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. The Marvel film has taken in $2.27bn (£1.75bn) in global ticket sales compared to Titanic’s still-impressive $2.187bn (£1.68bn) total.

However, adjusted for inflation, Titanic’s takings are still arguably bigger (IMDb estimates them to be worth between $3.2bn and $3.4bn today), but that didn’t stop Cameron praising Marvel.

“To Kevin and everybody at Marvel,” the director said on Twitter. “An Iceberg sank the real Titanic. It took the Avengers to sink my Titanic. Everyone here at Lightstorm Entertainment salutes your amazing achievement. You’ve shown that the movie industry is not only alive and well, it’s bigger than ever!”

For now though, Cameron is still top dog when it comes to the box office, with his 2009 film Avatar reigning supreme with a global ticket sales haul of $2.78bn (£2.14bn). So let’s see how cheery he’ll be if Avengers knocks Avatar off the top spot in the coming weeks and months.

Charmingly, Cameron’s tip of the hat is actually part of a long Hollywood tradition that sees film executives passing on the baton when their box office record is broken.

From Jaws to Jurassic World, directors and producers have been magnanimously congratulating each other’s success for decades.

When Titanic became the highest grossing film of all time in 1998, George Lucas took out a full-page colour advert in Variety - showing the Titanic sinking under the waves as Chewie and R2-D2 flee for their lives - congratulating his friend and competitor.

Confirming he still had a copy of the drawing, Cameron said in a Reddit AMA a few years ago, “it was an extremely gracious gesture. I sent him a thank you note after.”

Lucas also sent his pal Steven Spielberg a note in 1983 when E.T. overtook Star Wars to take top place in domestic film rentals, writing: “Congratulations to you and your Extra-Terrestrial buddy.

“E.T.’s adventure on earth and his gift of intergalactic friendship continue to touch us all. May the Force always be with you.”

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have been pals and rivals ever since the 1970s and their relationship is legendary in the annals of Hollywood history. They each went from hardship to incredible success with Star Wars (1977) and Jaws (1975) respectively, before eventually working together on Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981.

And Steven Spielberg has even spoken about how a friendly bet between the pair ended up costing Lucas an eye-watering amount of money.

In an interview with Turner Classic Movies, Spielberg revealed that back in the 1970s George Lucas was jittery that Star Wars would be a box office dud, especially after he visited the set of Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, which was released in 1977.

Spielberg didn’t agree though, and Lucas offered to swap 2.5% of Star Wars for 2.5% of Close Encounters, a bet that reportedly landed Spielberg around $40 million (£30 million). 

“I think I came out on top of that bet,” Spielberg laughed. “I think I did a lot better than George.”

Lucas also sent his friend a cute telegram ahead of the 1982 Oscars, when Raiders was up for Best Picture and Best Director.

“I have a feeling you’ll win," Lucas said. “Remember be careful, don’t make a fool of yourself, there will be 80 million people watching.”

So perhaps Hollywood directors aren’t always the tyrants they’re often made out to be - sometimes they can just be downright adorable.