Though "The Avengers" remained a big box office factor over the weekend, "Men in Black III" took over as the number one box office draw with $55 million in revenue over the three-day weekend and an estimated $70 million including Memorial Day. Meanwhile, horror-thriller "Chernobyl Diaries" racked up a disappointing $7.9 million over the weekend on a very weak per theater average of less than $4,000 per venue, giving it a slow start for distributor Warner Brothers. While "Chernobyl Diaries" struggled, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" continued its successful expansion and is looking like one of the best limited releases so far in 2012.
Even with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones back for another "Men in Black" adventure, it was unclear just how excited audiences were going to be after the second entry struggled to hit with its domestic audience a decade ago. But despite another big weekend from "The Avengers," "MIB III" pulled in a solid $55 million over the three-day weekend on a per venue average just under $13,000. "MIB III" also hauled in an estimated $15 million on Memorial Day, pushing it to a steady $70 million in its first four days.
Helping "MIB III" get off the ground was another lackluster weekend from action flick "Battleship," which saw its revenue dip substantially following a very slow opening in theaters a week ago. "MIB III" probably won't reach the $250 million that the original hauled in domestically back in 1997, but mostly positive critical reviews and a sizable international audience should help make it an overall success for distributor Sony/Columbia.
While "MIB III" cleaned up with action-seeking audiences, low-budget R-rated horror film "Chernobyl Diaries" had a hard time finding its target demographic. Director Oren Peli's follow-up to "Paranormal Activity" has received mostly poor critical reviews and was dwarfed over the weekend by mainstream options like "MIB III," "The Avengers" and R-rated comedy "The Dictator," helping it bring in just $9.30 million including Memorial Day. Even without much direct horror competition next weekend, "Chernobyl" should see a fairly sizable dip in revenue in the coming weeks and end up mostly a non-factor at the box office.
A movie that remains a huge box office factor even with major competition is "The Avengers," which pulled in an additional $36 million over the three-day weekend and $46 million including Memorial Day. In the process, "The Avengers" shot past $500 million in domestic revenue and became the fourth highest grossing film in U.S. history, easily surpassing "Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace." "The Avengers" has too strong a grip with its intended demographic to see a dramatic slide even next weekend with the major release of "Snow White and the Huntsman."
Aiming at a much different demographic over the weekend was limited release "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," a PG-13 comedy from John Madden, the director of Oscar-winner "Shakespeare in Love." Loaded with well-respected character actors like Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith, "Best Exotic" has built a strong reputation with older adult audiences and brought in a solid $6.4 million at only 1,233 theaters over the three-day weekend. Thanks to its popular mostly British cast, "Best Exotic" has also been a substantial hit outside of the U.S., pushing its worldwide total near $100 million for the low-budget comedy.
The weekend could also be the last that "The Hunger Games" lands in the domestic top ten after a spectacular 10-week run. "The Hunger Games" got off to a great start in late March and has remained a major box office draw ever since despite significant competition, particularly since the beginning of May. With $395 million in domestic revenue and $639 million worldwide, "The Hunger Games" is in great shape to continue the franchise with the fall 2013 release of sequel "Catching Fire."
Next weekend, the June box office schedule will kick off with "Snow White and the Huntsman," another Snow White tale that is much more serious than recent box office disappointment "Mirror Mirror." "Snow White and the Huntsman" stars Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, giving it a popular cast to go along with a new take on familiar material. Music drama "Battlefield America" and foreign film "For Greater Glory" will also get launched, though they are slated to receive limited releases.
Early Studio Box Office Estimates for 5/25/12 - 5/27/12 (In Millions), [RTT Predictions]:
1. Men in Black III (Sony/Columbia): $55 [$65]
2. The Avengers (Disney): $36.80 [$28]
3. Battleship (Universal): $10.90. [$12.5]
4. The Dictator (Paramount): $9.28 [$8.5]
5. Chernobyl Diaries (Warner Brothers): $7.97 [$18]
6. Dark Shadows (Warner Brothers): $7.46 [$6.5]
7. What to Expect When You're Expecting (Lionsgate): $7.11 [$6]
8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight): $6.37 [$4]
9. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate): $2.27 [$1.8]
10. Think Like a Man (Sony/Screen Gems): $1.40 [$1.40]
by RTT Staff Writer
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