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

"Men in Black 3"
"Men in Black 3"
 Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures

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.

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