We all knew that Men in Black 3 would wind up overtaking The Avengers after three weeks of record-breaking dominance. What we didn’t know was that that would wind up as MIB3’s sole accomplishment this weekend. With a huge release in 4,248 locations, and on one of the biggest movie-going weekends of the year, MIB3 is not exactly setting the box office on fire with its three-day estimate of $55 million.
|1||Men in Black 3||$55,000,000||$55|
|7||What to Expect When You’re Expecting||$7,150,000||$22.1|
|8||Best Exotic Marigold Hotel||$6,350,000||$16.5|
|9||The Hunger Games||$2,200,000||$395.2|
|10||Think Like A Man||$1,400,000||$88.2|
We had high hopes for May when The Avengers opened to record-breaking numbers four weeks back. And then, after one highly-touted, would-be-big movie after another failed at the box office, things started to look a little less sanguine. The latest to suffer in the shadow of Marvel’s megahit? Sony’s much-hyped Men in Black 3. Though the threequel made enough to shake The Avengers out of first place, that shouldn’t be a noteworthy feat at this point. Very few movies stay at number one for four weeks, and almost never during the competitive early summer months. Plus, for a film with the pedigree and price tag of MIB3, anything less than number one would have been a shock.
Once expected to top $90 million through Monday’s holiday, MIB3’s weekend estimate now points to a Memorial Day total of $70 million or less. For comparison, Disney is expecting to earn another $48 million for The Avengers through Monday – kind of incredible considering that, by that time, the Marvel heroes will have been in theatres for 25 days. And, just to underscore how capable The Avengers are of maintaining the spotlight, on Saturday the film crossed the $500 million mark in the US after just 23 days. Once again, they did that in record time: the only record that is likely to fall this holiday frame.
Though 2011 was not the most memorable movie year, last Memorial Day did set a box office gross record, largely on the strength of The Hangover Part II which earned almost $86 million in its first weekend. The same holiday frame also saw a big debut from Kung Fu Panda 2 and strong holdovers like Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Bridesmaids and Thor.
One year later, our bench is not nearly as deep. This weekend’s only other offering was the widely-panned Chernobyl Diaries, which took in just $7.5 million (estimated) from 2,433 locations. That means that it probably won’t pass $10 million through its first four days: a bad sign on any weekend. Add that to the fact that Battleship, The Dictator and Dark Shadows all under-performed, and 2012’s Memorial Day total is headed down by at least 30% over 2011.
Of course summer is far from over. This month may have been dominated by one exceptional release but there is still a lot to look forward to in June and July. As for Men in Black 3 – like Dark Shadows and Battleship before it – the hope is for a big international turnout to balance out the film’s giant budget (rumored to be anywhere from $225 to $300 million). For the first weekend of June, early projections have Snow White and the Huntsman nearly matching MIB3 with a three-day (non-holiday) launch of $50 million; and if you had told me twelve months ago that the year’s second Snow White movie would get close to the return of Will Smith and the iconic Men in Black franchise I’m not sure I would have believed you. So much for the King of Summer.