A few new releases proved to be no match for "The Avengers," which continued to dominate the box office with a $55 million third weekend intake, enough to easily finish atop the charts. With an enormous budget, "Battleship" was expected to at least challenge "The Avengers," though it only hauled in $25 million and looks to be a fairly big bust for distributor Universal. Meanwhile, Sacha Baron Cohen's "The Dictator" put together a decent opening of $17 million but "What to Expect When You're Expecting" missed its target audience, translating to an opening of only $10.5 million for Lionsgate.
With a production budget of $209 million, just $11 million shy of "The Avengers," expectations were fairly high for "Battleship." Starring Liam Neeson, "Battleship" was hoping to have its way with mainstream action audiences, but mediocre reviews and limited fan buzz made it a difficult sell over the weekend as "The Avengers" continued brining in action audiences with ease. In the end, "Battleship" earned less than $7,000 per site and just $25 million overall, making it a worse opening than "John Carter," which is arguably the biggest bust of the year.
But even though domestic audiences mainly avoided "Battleship" over the weekend, foreign audiences have already helped push its international total past $200 million to help its overall outlook. With such a poor opening domestically, though, it will likely see drastic declines in screenings in the coming weeks as other mainstream releases like "Men in Black 3" and "Snow White and the Huntsman" hit theaters. Look for "Battleship" to land in the top ten only a couple more times and to finish its run as one of the summer's biggest bombs.
While "Battleship" struggled to scoop up action-seeking audiences, adults looking for some comedy mainly turned to "The Dictator." Starring Sacha Baron Cohen of "Borat" and "Bruno" fame, "The Dictator" got off to a decent start, hauling in $17 million in opening weekend revenue and pushing its domestic total to $24 million in its first five days after launching on Wednesday.
Due to Cohen's international popularity, "The Dictator" will also rely on good foreign numbers for it to finish in the black, though the international figures have been lukewarm so far. It seems that Cohen's massively successful "Borat" was somewhat of an anomaly and "The Dictator" will probably end up with similar numbers as "Bruno," which got off to a hot start in 2009 and cooled off drastically after a strong opening. Decent critical reviews should help "The Dictator" moving forward, though huge numbers are not expected for the $65 million production.
The other new release of the weekend was adaptation "What to Expect When You're Expecting," a comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez. But even with some recognizable faces and a built-in audience, "What to Expect" managed less than $3,500 per venue and just $10.5 million overall, making it a very disappointing opening for the Lionsgate distribution. "What to Expect" should fade fairly quickly over the next few weekends and won't likely land in the top ten more than one or two more times.
A big part of the reason for the limited success of new releases, of course, is the continued dominance of "The Avengers," which has maintained its record-breaking pace since its eye-popping $207 million opening at the beginning of the month. "The Avengers" is already the sixth highest grossing film in U.S. history and the fourth highest grossing film ever in terms of worldwide revenue. Even with "Men In Black 3" likely taking over atop the box office this upcoming weekend, "The Avengers" will remain a major factor well into June.
Next weekend, the summer release schedule will continue with the launch of "Men in Black 3," with both Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith returning for another entry in the popular series. As "Men in Black 3" hopes to finally topple "The Avengers," director Oren Peli's ("Paranormal Activity") horror film "Chernobyl Diaries" should dig up audiences looking for thrills. Writer/director Wes Anderson's latest comedy, "Moonrise Kingdom," will also be getting launched in a limited release with a great cast that includes Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Bruce Willis, Ed Norton and Frances McDormand.
Early Studio Box Office Estimates for 5/18/12 - 5/20/12 (In Millions), [RTT Predictions]:
1. The Avengers (Disney): $55.08 [$53]
2. Battleship (Universal): $25.30 [$42]
3. The Dictator (Paramount): $17.42 [$22]
4. Dark Shadows (Warner Brothers): $12.77 [$14]
5. What to Expect When You're Expecting (Lionsgate): $10.50 [$21]
6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight): $3.25 [$2]
7. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate): $3 [$2.9]
8. Think Like a Man (Sony/Screen Gems): $2.70 [$3.3]
9. The Lucky One (Warner Brothers): $1.77 [$2.4]
10. The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Sony/Columbia): $1.45 [$1.7]
by RTT Staff Writer
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