Weekend Wrap-Up

MIB3 Bumps Avengers, But Cools Box Office

By John Hamann

May 27, 2012

Is the green screen on fire?

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This opening weekend means that Men in Black 3 has zero chance of matching its $230 million (or more) production budget stateside, and will have to rely heavily on foreign grosses to keep Sony from facing a heavy loss. The much discussed John Carter was like that, having earned only $72.2 million at North American box office against a $250 million Disney budget. It earned over $209 million overseas for a combined $282 million. That may seem like a lot, but remember that studios only keep a portion of revenue from ticket sales; therefore, Disney faced a big loss on that one. Battleship is in a similar scenario – it has earned over $227 million overseas and will likely earn $65 million stateside. However, with a $209 million budget, it will still see a huge loss.

With Men in Black 3, the stateside box office is going to top out below $200 million (MIB2 earned $190 million with a bigger five-day opening), but the overseas gross will likely beat the North American take by as much as 25%. So, using easy math numbers, if MIB3 takes in $200 million (and that's a serious if), the overseas could be as much as $300 million for a $500 million worldwide gross. So far, its worldwide gross is already at $202 million, so chances are that the studio is going to be fine with the performance of MIB3. Still, they'll be a lot happier once ancillary revenues from home video come in.


Finishing second is the dominant film for the last 24 days – Marvel's The Avengers, the new owner of too many records to count. It took down another record this weekend – fastest film to $500 million – as it took in another $37 million from 3,918 venues. It was off a puny 34% compared to the previous frame, despite losing 331 venues to MIB3. It has a total now of $513.8 million, making it the fourth biggest domestic release of all time, behind only The Dark Knight ($533 million), Titanic ($600.8 million) and Avatar ($760.5 million). As mentioned, it beat all of these films to the $500 million mark, accomplishing the feat in only 23 days (it crossed that plateau on Saturday). The former record holder was Avatar, which did it in 32 days (it vaulted past $600 million only 15 days later). The Avengers is running out of records to break – it will take over The Dark Knight's #3 spot by the end of next weekend, but will have to work hard to make it to $600 million.

Battleship finishes third this weekend, but that's where the good news ends for the expensive, $209 million Universal release. After opening in North America last weekend to only $25.5 million, Battleship gets hammered again, despite a long follow-up weekend. Over a weekend where films should generally see good holds, Battleship fell a ludicrous 58% to $44.3 million, and is now headed toward unmitigated disaster land. Considering it opened the frame prior to the Memorial Day long weekend, Battleship was set up for what should be one of those nirvana box office scenarios: It should have opened large the weekend prior to the long weekend, and then sailed through weekend two with a serious cumulative gross. In the case of Battleship, we get the complete opposite, and a two-for-two failure rate.

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