'Men in Black 3' Tops Memorial Day Frame
'The Avengers' Fastest Film to 1/2 Billion
Published: 05/27/12, Last Updated: 05/29/12 01:41am
As expected Sony’s franchise-rebooting Men in Black 3, which is based on the comic book written by Lowell Cunningham, topped the weekend box office with an estimated 3-day total of $55 million, while Joss Whedon’s The Avengers slipped 33.5% as it added an estimated $37 million to its mammoth domestic box office total. But aside from the "Big Two" things were slack at the box office. Universal’s Battleship slipped nearly 58% in its second weekend, and the total of the Top 10 films was down a resounding 31% from Memorial Day weekend last year when The Hangover 2 debuted with over $85 million.
Men in Black’s 3-day total was greater than either the 1997 original ($51.2 million) or the 2002 first sequel ($52.1 million), but considering ticket inflation and the fact that MIB3 was shown in 3-D, and it is clear that the number of admissions was way down for the pricy sequel, which reportedly cost $230 million to produce. The good news for Sony (and director Barry Sonnenfeld) is that, unlike the case of the franchise-damaging 2002 sequel, audiences actually liked MIB3 giving it a "B+" CinemaScore.
Considering that MIB3 unspooled a decade after a disastrous sequel, its debut should be considered quite successful. Critics don’t always matter with big summer tentpoles, but the fact that MIB3 managed to earn a solid 68% "Fresh" rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes definitely helped overcome the memories of the disastrous Men in Black 2. MIB3 attracted an audience that was gender balanced (54% male) and slightly older with 56% of the crowd over 25. The film also did well overseas where it opened in 104 territories and brought in $132 million, giving it a 4-day estimated worldwide launch total over $200 million. Continuing strong performances overseas could allow MIB3 to finish its theatrical run in the black, though that is certainly not a sure thing at this point.
Meanwhile The Avengers managed to keep on setting new records, even after it relinquished its box office crown on Friday. On Saturday Joss Whedon’s superhero team-up movie became the fastest film ever to earn $500 million domestically, accomplishing the task in just 23 days versus 32 for Avatar. Does this mean that The Avengers will eventually eclipse Avatar’s mighty box office record? No, not really since Avatar (and fellow Cameron-helmed blockbuster Titanic) had perhaps the most impressive “legs” in box office history, in large part because they faced little in the way of competition for months, whereas The Avengers will have to continue to square off against a series of would-be summer blockbusters. But The Avengers, which is now #4 all time (not adjusted for inflation), will most certainly move up to #3, behind just Avatar and Titanic, and may finish with as much as $1.5 billion worldwide.
The news is not nearly as good for Universal’s Battleship. A 58% drop for the 3-day weekend wouldn’t be all that bad for a summer tentpole if the board game-based movie had opened bigger, and if the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend weren’t a special "Sunday" for theatrical grosses because of the national holiday on Monday. While Uni’s tentpole has done better overseas with $232.7 million to John Carter’s $220, Disney’s Carter, which also stars Tyler Kitsch, had earned $53.8 million domestically after 10 days compared with Battleship’s $44.4 million over the same period. At this point it is hard to see this heavily listing battlewagon earning much more than $300 million worldwide, which will mean a hefty write-off for the studio.
Sascha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator goose-stepped its way to fourth place with an estimated 3-day total of $9.6 million, but it remains far behind the total earned by the comedian’s hit Borat. In spite of an extensive TV ad campaign, the "found footage" horror film Chernobyl Diaries debuted weakly in fifth place--Warner Bros. is probably wishing that the footage for this particular film had remained "lost."
Warner Bros. also can't be too happy with the performance of Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, which slipped to #6. A fter 3 weekends the horror spoof has earned just $63 million domestically, and only about half of the global total it will need to break even.
Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games remained in the Top Ten for the tenth straight week and added an estimated $2.75 million to its total as it claws ever nearer to the $400 million mark domestically that will likely be its final resting place.
Aardman Animation’s stop-motion delight, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, slipped out of the Top 10 in its fifth weekend as it earned an estimated $1.1 million and brought its North American cumulative to $27.3 million. Globally the $55 million film has now brought it $101 million, which puts it within striking distance of profitability.
Check back here next Sunday to find out how another of this summer’s big gambles, the pricy fantasy film, Snow White and the Huntsman, fares against MIB3 and the rest of the box office holdovers.