The Avengers Topple Battleship and The Dictator with $55.1 Million

The Avengers Topple Battleship and The Dictator with $55.1 MillionBattleship, The Dictator and What to Expect When You’re Expecting faced Nick Fury and Marvel’s The Avengers at the box office this weekend and ran into a charged up Hulk. The superhero ensemble phenomenon easily held its top spot while rewriting the record books again.

Despite the continuing good fortune for The Avengers over the past few weeks, the box office slowed its roll a bit as the top ten earned 12% less than it did a year ago.

The Avengers lost only 47% of its gargantuan business from last weekend as it earned an estimated $55.1 million from 4,349 theaters, bringing its 17-day total to the $457 million mark. The Joss Whedon film now sits at number six on the all-time highest grossing domestic films of all time (pre-inflation) behind the original Star Wars.

Hulk and friends also set a pair of records over the past week, hitting both the $400 and $450 million in record time. In both cases, The Avengers took those bragging rights away from 2008’s The Dark Knight. The Christopher Nolan film hit the $400 million mark in 18 days (Avengers did it in 14) and the $450 million mark in 27 days (17 days for The AvengersAvatar did better with $68.5 million back in 2009.

Overseas, The Avengers reached $723 million after adding another $56 million to its coffers. The combined global total is now a staggering $1.18 billion and counting.

The film expected to dislodge The Avengers this weekend, the Universal big budget sci-fi gamble Battleship, had a debut that would make one loudly yell out “MISS!” were they playing the Hasbro board game the $210 million production is based on. Despite the aggressive ad campaign for Peter Berg’s latest, the best Battleship could muster from 3,690 theaters was an estimated $25 million, hardly a figure that bodes well for the film’s long-term domestic box office prospects. The underwhelming debut all but guarantees that the pricey flick will not match its $220 million global haul.

In fact, Battleship may be hard pressed to earn a third of that foreign total. Several factors can be attributed to the underwhelming debut: the hyperactive television spots and trailers that make this look like a Transformers knock off, the volley of harsh critical reviews resulting in a 36% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (my favorite snark: “You stank, my Battleship“), the unappealing ensemble cast (Taylor ‘John Carter’ Kitsch, Rhianna, Brooklyn Decker) or simply the fact that most people over the age of 12 have no interest in seeing a loud, incoherent, unintentionally funny film based on a children’s board game. However you dissect it, this Battleship looks to be sunk domestically and will have to hope for calmer seas on Blu-ray and DVD.

In third place was Paramount’s raunchy R-rated comedy The Dictator starring Sacha Baron-Cohen and Anna Faris. The comedy, which pairs the British comedian with director Larry Charles for the third time following 2006’s Borat and 2009’s Bruno, got a head start on the weekend with a mild $7.1 million debut since Wednesday. For the weekend, it went on to earn a mild $17.4 million from 3,008 theaters, bringing its five-day total to the $24.5 million mark. Not a horrible figure by any stretch given the movie’s “R” rating, but the $65 million production will need some solid word-of-mouth from ticket buyers to stay afloat over the next few weeks. With opening day viewers bestowing the movie with a “C” rating on CinemaScore, that crucial feedback may not be in the cards.

After underwhelming the box office last weekend with a $29 million opening, the expensive Johnny Depp and Tim Burton production Dark Shadows crumbled 60% in its second go around to an estimated $12.8 million. To date, the $125 million production has pulled in an anemic $51 million after ten days and may make it to the $65-70 million mark by the end of its run. The film should provide better numbers overseas where Depp and Burton are both top draws.

Rounding out the top five was the third wide release of the weekend, the Lionsgate pregnancy comedy What to Expect When You’re Expecting. The ensemble comedy, which features Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Rock and Brooklyn ‘Battleship’ Decker (Time to fire your agent, Brook) was a non-starter from the word go as it earned a poor $10.5 million from 3,021 theaters. Reviews were awful (22% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and the “B-” CinemaScore rating from ticket buyers was hardly worth celebrating either.

Far more impressive was the number six film in the country, the Fox Searchlight British import The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The ensemble film earned an impressive $75 million overseas prior to its North American opening three weeks ago. Thanks to strong reviews and word-of-mouth, the film has earned some nice bank despite being in limited release so far. Playing on a mere 357 screens, Hotel earned an estimated $3.5 million this weekend to bring its early total to $8.5 million.

The remainder of the top ten is as follows:

7. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) $2.8 million, $391 million

8. Think Like a Man (Sony) $2.7 million, $86 million

9. The Lucky One (Warner) $1.7 million, $56 million

10. The Pirates! A Band of Misfits (Sony) $1.6 million $26 million

Men In Black III and Chernobyl Diaries will join The Avengers for the big Memorial Day weekend at the box office.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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