It looks like The Avengers run on top will finally come to an end this weekend with the release of Men in Black 3. It better. If The Avengers earns more during its fourth weekend of release than MiB3 opens with, then the overall box office will be in such serious trouble that I don't even want to talk about it. So the number one film shouldn't be in doubt, but there are still some questions to ask. Will Men in Black 3 live up to the previous two installments in the franchise? I am quite confident it will. However, in order for 2012 to earn the win on the year-over-year comparison, it will need to match The Hangover 2, which opened this weekend last year. I'm not very confident it will do that, to be very generous. Even if it manages the minor miracle needed to reach that level, there's still Kung Fu Panda 2 to deal with and the only other new release, Chernobyl Diaries, won't come anywhere close to that film's debut. It's probably going to be a really bad weekend at the box office.
The Men in Black franchise started in 1997 with Men in Black. That movie was massively expensive for its day, but was also a hit with critics and moviegoers. It was no shock when the studio made a second film with an even bigger budget. But this movie earned poor reviews and didn't match its predecessor at the box office. Now Men in Black 3 is coming out and by some metrics, this is one of the most anticipated films of the summer. There's also a lot of trepidation after the last film, so many people have a, "Wait and see" approach to this film. This means the reviews are more important than most summer action blockbusters and there's some good news and some bad news. So far the reviews are in the overall positive level, which is better than a lot of similar films manage. On the other hand, it is still a huge step down from the first film. Additionally, it has been a decade since the last film came out and Will Smith is no longer the number one box office draw. I think it is wise to be a little cautious in any predictions and I'm going with an opening box office of close to $60 million over the three-day portion of the weekend, say $58 million, and a little over $70 million if you include Monday, say $72 million. On the other hand, it could fail to make $58 million over four days, or make $72 million over three. There are some reports that the film cost $300 million to make, so the studio is obviously hoping it reaches the high end.
While The Avengers will finally get knocked out of top spot, it should still earn a solid second place over the weekend while it has reached fourth place on the All Time list. Look for $34 million / $43 million over the weekend, which will give the film the record for fastest to $500 million by about a week. At this pace, The Dark Knight will fall; it is just a matter of time.
Battleship should grab third place with $14 million / $19 million. However, there is a chance that soft reviews and direct competition will hurt the film causing it to really tumble, even with the holiday. If that happens, $11 million / $14 million is more likely, and that probably won't be enough for third place.
The only other wide release of the week is Chernobyl Diaries, which is currently earning no reviews. Given the type of film, it won't need to earn overwhelming positive reviews to be a hit with its target audience. Also, there are not a lot of horror films out at the moment. The Cabin in the Woods is the closest to a horror film in the top twenty, and it was released more than a month ago. On the other hand, it just doesn't have a lot of buzz and it is strictly a counter-programing release. There is a chance it won't crack $10 million over the weekend, either over three days or four, leaving it in fifth place. I'm a little more bullish than most and I think it will reach fourth with $12 million from Friday through Sunday and $15 million including Monday.
The Dictator should be in a close battle for fourth place with $11 million / $14 million giving it a total of $47 million after two. The film was more expensive to make than I thought it would cost, but its international numbers are stronger than its domestic numbers and it should have no trouble earning a profit when all is said and done.
Date posted: 2012-05-24