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Box Office Report: 'Men in Black 3' Launches With $1.6 Million in Midnight Earnings

Men in Black 3 Josh Brolin Will Smith - H 2012
Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures
"Men in Black 3"

The threequel, opening a decade after the previous installment in Sony's marquee franchise played in theaters, returns Will Smith in the lead role and Barry Sonnenfeld in the director's chair.

Sony's 3D Memorial Day tentpole Men in Black 3 grossed $1.6 million in Thursday midnight runs at the domestic box office.

MiB 3 is an important test for the marquee franchise, as well as Smith's star status. The movie, again starring Will Smith and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, is expected to gross $85 million to $90 million for the four-day holiday weekend, easily taking the box-office crown away from The Avengers (now in its fourth weekend) but lagging behind top Memorial Day performers in years past.

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Hollywood already is resigned to the fact that MIB 3 won't reach the levels of last year's The Hangover Part II, which opened nationwide on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend and grossed a whopping $10.4 million in Wednesday midnight runs on its way to earning $135 million for the four days.

MIB 3 also is rolling out overseas, and Sony is hopeful that the event pic will clear $200 million worldwide in its debut. Sony has plenty at stake financially, considering the film cost $230 million to produce.

Domestically, MIB 3 could hit $20 million on Friday, including midnight earnings.

The movie, also headlining Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones, opens a decade after Men in Black II debuted, but Sony is making a big play for kids who don't necessarily remember the franchise. If that happens, the pic could see a strong business on Saturday and Sunday, as well as Monday.

MIB 3 fared better in its midnight performance than last weekend's action tentpole Battleship, which only earned $650,000 on its way to a dismal $25.5 million three-day opening.

Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. horror pic Chernobyl Diaries grossed roughly $525,000 in midnight showings.