Weekend Box Office: Men In Black 3 Takes Memorial Day Holiday, The Avengers Drops To #2


You know what the difference between you and me is?
I’ve graduated from stale franchises for my amusement.

With the tagline “Back in Time” (hey, wasn’t that ZZ Top’s song for Back to the Future Part III?), Sony Pictures hoped that audiences were primed to wax nostalgia for a movie property that had made two films in a five year span, then had a ten-year break between the first and second sequel. Men in Black 3 had a three-day total of $55 million. Not bad considering the amount of time between sequels, but bad when you consider Men in Black II made $52 million a decade ago. And that was without the benefit of inflated 3D ticket prices. So more money but less viewers overall. In my review, I said that there was no reason this movie should have been made, but also added that it adheres to the original’s sense of fun – with the addition of Josh Brolin being the comedy’s biggest strength. Scott pretty much eviscerated the film (read his review) wanting to know why Will Smith turned down the opportunity to play the titular Django in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained for this. Perhaps Smith is content with just going the safe route to appease his audience. His previous effort, Seven Pounds, got a tepid response from his fans, so for his big-screen comeback after four years of letting his children be stars – son Jayden starred in The Karate Kid and daughter Willow gave us the neck spasm hit single “Whip My Hair” – Big Willie decided to take the easy route with something familiar instead of something difference.

The development of MIB 3 is probably more entertaining in a comedy of errors sort of way. Especially knowing that shooting commenced without a finished script, only to later have production cease operations for a six-week span to fix the problems. Rumored to be in the ballpark of a $225 million production, Sony better hope that Smith’s appeal overseas will make the comedy a certifiable winner in the numbers department. Because it will need huge numbers if it is to turn a profit. A 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes means that two-thirds of critics sampled liked the third installment to an extent, and it has already accumulated $132 million worldwide.

It goes without question that the start of the summer blockbuster season has been a dud. The lone exception is the exceptional performance by Marvel’s The Avengers. Neither Dark Shadows nor Battleship could dethrone the superhero team movie. Law of averages when it comes to box office is that eventually a film will come along to dethrone. Usually it is done within a week or two, but The Avengers had reigned supreme for three straight weeks. Even coming in second position, its $37 million was better than the opening weekend grosses of Shadows and Battleship individually. The Avengers‘ success here and oveseas has seen its total eclipse the $1.2 billion mark, and it is just $20 million away from overtaking The Dark Knight in domestic earnings.

So where does that leave Battleship and Dark Shadows. That ship movie based on a board game saw a 57% drop from its opening weekend of $25.5 million. Thankfully, it has quickly left this writer’s memory. Universal Pictures seems to be a studio that would be best specializing in small- to mid-sized releases. But even that isn’t a sure thing. January’s Contraband could be viewed as a minor hit. Sadly, the same could not be said for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The studio still has plenty of time to generate some hits this summer, including Snow White and the Huntsman, Ted, and The Bourne Legacy – the last of which is a strong franchise for the studio but this time is without its star Matt Damon.

As for the latest Johnny Depp/Tim Burton pairing, Dark Shadows falls to the sixth spot for its third week of release. With a three-day haul of an estimated $7.2 million, that’s only $900k better than the UK import The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which got a hefty expansion this Memorial Day Holiday with 879 new locations. The Dictator finds itself benefitting from the lack of mainstream comedies at the cineplex right now. Granted, its second weekend total of $9.6 million is nowhere near as good as Borat, but the comedy is destined to butter its bread on DVD. It did just enough to not be overtaken by yet another found footage horror picture from Oren Peli (of Paranormal Activity infamy), Chernobyl Diaries.

Those wanting to know if The Hunger Games has eclipsed $400 million in the U.S., the answer is no. It’s inching ever so close that that marker, though. Spending its tenth consecutive week in the top 10, Games also posted the lowest audience drop for a top 10 release. And it looks like Think Like a Man won’t become a $100 million film after all. It will have to settle for finishing just above $90 million before it leaves theaters.

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom saw limited release this weekend grossing $509k from four locations. The ensemble piece that played to strong response over at Cannes (minus Rex Reed’s review) set an indie-release record with a per-screen average of $127k. Kingdom‘s expansion in the coming weeks could attain the same success as Marigold Hotel. It has a long way to go if it is to challenge the overall earnings of Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums ($52 million).

The other big indie release was France’s The Intouchables. The feel-good film has already become one of the most successful international releases of all time with $330 million in receipts. For its American debut it pulled in $101k at four locations. Look for The Weinstein Company to expand this crowd pleaser in the next few weeks.

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Source: Box Office Mojo