Box Office Report: ‘Men in Black 3’ Tops Memorial Day With $202 Million Worldwide, Beats ‘Avengers’

Men In Black 3 Will Smith Tommy Lee Jones erasing memory - H 2012
Columbia Pictures

Men In Black 3 Will Smith Tommy Lee Jones erasing memory - H 2012

Sony’s threequel, however, performs lower than expected in North America with $70 million; “Chernobyl Diaries” likewise muted with estimated $9.4 million opening; Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” breaks records at specialty box office.

The Will Smith threequel Men in Black 3 isn’t quite meeting its numbers at the domestic box office but is projected to gross $202 million globally by the end of the long Memorial Day weekend, fueled by strong showings in Russia and Asia. It’s also the film to finally topple The Avengers, albeit in that film's fourth outing.

In North America, MIB3 is expected to post a four-day total of $70 million after grossing $55 million for the three-day weekend. The $70 million is short of the $75 million or $80 million Sony hoped the tentpole would earn (rivals thought it would do more) on the strength of kids and families. Moviegoing is down a sizeable 32 percent from Memorial Day 2011, when The Hangover Part II and Kung Fu Panda 2 both debuted.

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Overseas, MIB3 opened to $132 million from 106 markets, placing No. 1 in 104. The tentpole debuted to $19.5 million in China, the seventh-biggest opening of all time and beating the openings of Avengers and Battleship. It scored the sixth-biggest debut of all time in Russia, grossing $18.9 million, and earned $8.5 million in Korea and $8 million in Japan.

MIB3 was notably soft in several European territories, including the U.K., where warm weather kept people outside.

There’s no doubt that MIB3 is faring far better than Universal’s Battleship or Warner Bros.’ Dark Shadows, but it needs to do substantial business to come out ahead. The threequel cost $230 million to produce, plus a pricey marketing spend.

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MIB3 is an important test for the marquee franchise after a decade-long hiatus, as well as Smith's star status, considering the actor hasn’t been in theaters for four years. In the threequel, Smith's character travels back in time, where he meets a young Agent K, played by Josh Brolin. Tommy Lee Jones returns to play the older Agent K, while Barry Sonnenfeld returned to direct after helming the first two installments.

Sony says MIB3 is the best-performing film in the franchise in terms of its three-day weekend gross of $55 million. However, Men in Black grossed $84.1 million during the course of its six-day debut in July 1997, while Men in Black II posted a five-day debut of $87.2 million in July 2002 (both those films debuted around July 4th).

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Disney and Marvel Studios’ The Avengers remains a formidable force in its fourth weekend, grossing an estimated $37 million for the three days on its way to $47.1 million for the four-day weekend. Disney says the film’s global gross is now $1.3 billion — just short of the $1.33 billion earned by the final Harry Potter pic, the third-biggest title of all time. And over the weekend, it became the fastest film to cross $500 domestically (23 days).

The horror pic Chernobyl Diaries, Memorial weekend's other nationwide release, grossed a muted $8 million for the three-day weekend to come in No. 5. The low-budget film, with a projected four-day gross of $9.4 million, earned a dismal D+ CinemaScore and is being released by Warner Bros. on behalf of Alcon Entertainment, which acquired the pic from FilmNation.

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom is making big headlines at the specialty box office. The film, which opened the Cannes Film Festival this month, grossed $508,870 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for the three days for a record-breaking per-location average of $127,218 -- the highest of 2012 and the highest ever for a title released in four theaters.

For the four days, Moonrise Kingdom is expected gross $678,000, putting its location average at a staggering $169,500.