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Every few years, a blockbuster movie comes along and breaks the box office, joining the list of highest-grossing movies of all time.

Several of the films near the top of this list were released in the past decade, benefitting from today’s higher ticket prices, but every movie here has shown enough staying power at the worldwide box office to smash record after record.

That makes the No. 1 title, “Avatar,” even more impressive, since the underwater epic came out 15 years ago, when ticket prices were lower, yet is still on top of the worldwide list. Its sequel, “The Way of Water,” hovers not far behind at No. 3. The takeaway? Never underestimate James Cameron, since he has three out of the top four entries worldwide.

Note that this list is not adjusted for inflation; determining the top films of all time at the time they were released is an imperfect science. Looking at only domestic (U.S. and Canada) releases, the top films adjusted for inflation are estimated to be “Gone With the Wind,” “Star Wars,” “The Sound of Music,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” and “Titanic.”



1. Avatar (2009)

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