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Weekend Box Office: 'Avengers' Annihilates 'Battleship,' Which Opens Lower than 'John Carter'

Thompson on Hollywood By Brian Fuson | Thompson on Hollywood May 20, 2012 at 1:30PM

Marking its third consecutive weekend in the top spot, Disney’s “The Avengers” continued to annihilate the competition and dominate at North American box office. The Marvel Studio’s production racked up an estimated $55 million, advancing its cume to a stellar $457.1 million.
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'Battleship'
'Battleship'

Marking its third consecutive weekend in the top spot, Disney’s “The Avengers” continued to annihilate the competition and dominate at North American box office. The Marvel Studio’s production racked up an estimated $55 million, advancing its cume to a stellar $457.1 million.  On Saturday “Avengers” became the highest-grossing film domestically for Disney, surpassing the $423.3 million gross of "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." See Top Ten Box Office Chart below.

The international total for “The Avengers” is now $723.3 million, moving the worldwide gross to a staggering $1.18 billion.  Among all films worldwide, “Avengers” is now the fourth-highest grossing picture in boxoffice history, behind “Avatar,” “Titanic,” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”

Three new wide releases hit the marketplace this weekend, but in the wake of the “The Avengers” box office juggernaut they didn’t have much of an impact.  But it should be mentioned that there was probably a segment of males that were checked out this weekend as both the NBA and NHL had playoffs and for soccer fans there was the UEFA Championship League game, all of which may have diverted attention away from movie going for those males.

Even with the sizzle of “Avengers,” overall it was a down weekend at the boxoffice. The estimated total for all films was $144 million, off some 14% from the comparable period last year when “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” opened with $90.2 million.

Hardest hit among the frame’s new arrivals was Universal’s “Battleship,” which opened in the second spot with a bleak $25.3 million.  The buzz stateside on the $209-million production has been rough for a while, and the opening now either confirms or fulfills that prediction. But the opening was even lower then projections heading into the weekend as most observers thought the film would debut to $35 million to $40 million.

Peter Berg directed the PG-13 rated sci-fi actioner, which stars starring Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, and Rihanna in her acting debut.  Kitsch was also the star of big-budget dud “John Carter,” which opened better at $30.2 million (he has a chance to redeem himself with Oliver Stones "Savages"). “Battleship,” based on the Hasbro game, is about an alien invasion of the earth that is battled by a U.S. Navy Fleet.

As expected, the audience for “Battleship” skewed slightly older and slightly more male, and the film generated a moderate “B” CinemasScore, which may help word-of-mouth down the road.  But critics were not fans, as positive reviews were a low 36%, according to RottenTomatoes.com.

“Battleship” opened internationally nearly a month before its domestic release – a rare occurrence in the world of distribution -- and has taken in an estimated $226.8 million so far, combining for a worldwide cume to date of $252.1 million.  It seems international grosses may be the saving grace for “Battleship” in the long run as domestic returns seem certain to disappoint.

Paramount’s “The Dictator” opened in the third slot with a disappointing $17.4 million. The Larry Charles film has collected around $24.5 million since its release on Wednesday. The R-rated “Dictator” was moved off its original date of the previous weekend so as not to directly clash with another comedy, Warner Bros.’ “Dark Shadows.”

The opening for “Dictator” was the lowest opening to date for the film’s star, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. Of Baron Cohen’s previous two releases, “Borat: Cultural Leanings of Amercian for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” a mockumentary, was his best-performer with a domestic opening of $26.5 million. It ended its run with a robust $128.5 million and a worldwide cume of $261 million, while “Bruno” opened better with $30.6 million but topped out at just $60 million in North America and did a mild $78 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $138.8 million.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.