There is no stopping "The Avengers." At least not yet.
The Marvel superhero film from acclaimed genre writer, producer and director Joss Whedon, continues to dominate the box office. This time, "The Avengers" finished the weekend with a haul of $55.1 million, easily beating the debut of both the genre action flick "Battleship" and the new Sasha Baron Cohen comedy "The Dictator."
Did we mention that "Avengers" is in its third week?
The film is completely destroying the box office for the entire year so far, now grossing $457.1 million in its first 17 days, averaging just under $27 million a day. That officially places it at No. 5 on the all-time box office gross list, according to Internet Movie Database behind only "Avatar" ($760.5 million), "Titanic" ($600.8 million), "The Dark Knight" ($533.3 million) and "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" ($460.9 million).
It moved ahead of a number of movies, including the previous 2012 box office champ "The Hunger Games" ($391.6 million), "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" ($402.1 million), "Spider-Man" ($403.7 million), "Toy Story 3" ($415 million), "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" ($423 million), "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" ($431.1 million), "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial" ($434.9 million) and "Shrek 2" ($436.5 million).
"Avengers" is now expected to move past "A New Hope" as early as Monday, and could start a real challenge to "The Dark Knight" in just a couple weeks, depending on how much drop-off the film starts to see at the box office. However, while it could surpass "Dark Knight" numbers, it's highly unlikely that "Avengers" will give either "Titanic" or "Avatar" a challenge for the all-time throne.
"Avengers" has also done amazing business overseas, with well over $1.1 billion in tickets sold, combined with North America. It's almost to the point of completely erasing the huge $200 million financial hit the Walt Disney Co. took from the "John Carter" bomb.
"Battleship," in the meantime, did not get off to a good start, despite the heavy marketing campaign from Universal Pictures, including a constant barrage of on-screen advertising throughout NBC's primetime schedule. (Universal and NBC are part of the same media company, owned by Comcast Corp.) The film from mostly new writing team of Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber with "Hancock" director Peter Berg, fell way short of its $200 million budget with just a $25.4 million opening weekend.
That almost all but assures Universal that "Battleship" is going to be a bust at the box office. That film is likely not going to see much more than $75 million (if that) in North America when it's all said and done. Just to compare, Disney's "John Carter" opened with $30.2 million, and ended its run with just $71.7 million domestically.
The film was met with scathing reviews, according to Rotten Tomatoes, with just 36 percent of critics surveyed liking the film, and just a little over half of its small audience recommending it to others. By comparison, "The Hunger Games" was like by 84 percent of critics, while "Avengers" was totally loved by 93 percent of critics, according to the website.
The rein of "The Avengers" at the top of the box office is expected to end at three weeks next week when the new Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones film "Men In Black 3" is expected to premiere.
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