Smith, Jones' 'MiB3' zaps 'Avengers' out of No. 1

Associated Press Modified: May 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm •  Published: May 28, 2012
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The comic action heroes of "Men in Black 3" have taken over the weekend box office from the comic-book superheroes of "The Avengers."

According to studio estimates Monday, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones' latest "Men in Black" installment debuted with $70 million domestically over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, which proved unusually quiet at theaters for Hollywood overall.

Sony's "Men in Black 3" took over the No. 1 spot from Disney's "The Avengers," which had been the top flick for three straight weekends but slipped to second place with $46.9 million domestically.

"Men in Black 3" added $133.2 million overseas for a worldwide total of $203.2 million.

"We took over the world this weekend," said Rory Bruer, Sony's head of distribution. "It's so exciting to see Will and company back in this franchise. I certainly think that most people who've seen the film think it's the best of the franchise."

"The Avengers" raised its domestic total to $523.6 million, making it the No. 4 movie on the all-time domestic revenue chart and only the fourth film to top half a billion dollars. "The Avengers" will quickly pass the No. 3 film, "The Dark Knight" at $533.3 million, leaving only "Avatar" at $760.5 million and "Titanic" at $658.5 million ahead of it.

While it was a good start for "Men in Black 3" and another strong hold for "The Avengers," Memorial Day weekend was the slowest at theaters in more than a decade. Box-office tracker Hollywood.com estimates that overall domestic receipts for the four days will finish at $190 million, the lowest since Memorial Day weekend in 2001, when revenues totaled $185.3 million.

A year ago, Hollywood pulled in a record $276.3 million over Memorial Day weekend, when "The Hangover Part II" debuted with $103.4 million.

So far, Hollywood's summer season has been a one- or two-hit wonder, with only "The Avengers" doing blockbuster business and now "Men in Black 3" joining it with a solid opening.

Other May releases fell far short of expectations, with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" and the game adaptation "Battleship" swamped in the wake of "The Avengers." ''Battleship" launched in April overseas, though, where its $232 million haul helped make up for its meager $47.1 million total after two weekends domestically.

With domestic revenue at $4.3 billion so far this year, Hollywood remains on a record pace, receipts running 11.3 percent ahead of last year's, according to Hollywood.com. But revenue had been running 20 percent ahead of 2011's earlier this year.

Analysts have said this season could sweep past last year's summer revenue record of $4.4 billion on the strength of such releases as "The Avengers" and its superhero cousins "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Amazing Spider-Man."

Other than "The Avengers" and "Men in Black 3," summer is off to a slow start.

"After five weeks of summer, to only have two hits, that's tough," said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "We definitely need to slingshot back. I was on record predicting record revenue for this summer, and now I'm getting worried. Summer is only 18 weeks, so we don't have a lot of time, but we do have a lot of big movies coming."

"Men in Black 3" reunites Smith's Agent J and Jones' K for their first big-screen adventure since 2002. The movie co-stars Josh Brolin as the younger Agent K, who is targeted for death by a time-traveling alien that Agent J chases back to the late 1960s.

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