On April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic ran into an iceberg—and, 100 years in the future, The Avengers got sunk.
See, despite making history Tuesday by reaching $600 million at the domestic box office, the Marvel superhero movie will be denied a shot at making at more history, and ascending higher in the ranks of Hollywood's all-time hits.
And it's sort of all the iceberg's fault.
When James Cameron's romantic take on the maritime tragedy left screens in 1998, Titanic stood at a then-record $600.8 million domestically.
The movie held at that amount—an amount The Avengers will surpass today, if it hasn't already—for 13 and a half years.
But then in April, upon the centennial observance of the real-life Titanic disaster, and just one month before Iron Man and colleagues began their assault on the box office, Cameron's Titanic was rereleased in 3-D.
By the time the retrofitted Oscar winner exited theaters again just a couple of weeks ago, it had added nearly $60 million to its ledger.
The film that The Avengers would've topped at $600.8 million, establishing the action-adventure as the new No. 2 domestic hit, behind Cameron's Avatar, of all films, was now "firmly out of [the Marvel movie's] reach," in the estimation of Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock, at $658.7 million.
"It does seem like a fortunate coincidence that this year was the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking," Bock said via email. "Well played, Cameron."
BoxOffice.com editor Phil Contrino guestimated that The Avengers has about $25 million-30 million left in the tank. If that proves true, the film will end its run at about $630 million domestically, and in third place on the all-time chart behind, yes, Titanic.
Contrino reminded that The Avengers is hardly being robbed—when Titanic's original 1997-98 total is adjusted for today's ticket prices, he pointed out, the Cameron film becomes a $1 billion-grossing domestic behemoth. "Way more people went to see Titanic than The Avengers," he said.
Still, a lot of people have gone to see The Avengers, too, and Disney, which distributed the Marvel film, isn't fretting over the Titanic mark it could've, would've had.
Said Disney exec Dave Hollis, "Whatever we end up getting is [going to be] a phenomenal number."