The reign of "The Avengers" at the top of the box office is over -- but it's still hanging pretty close to the new leader.
"Men in Black 3" opened with $55 million to take over at No. 1, but was not too far ahead of "The Avengers," which earned $37 million in its fourth week. That now brings "Avengers" up over $500 million domestically, $513.8 million to be exact, and is almost in a spot to challenge for the top of the box office again next week.
Of course, that would only come if "Snow White & the Huntsman" suffered an epic failure at the box office. Yet, if "MIB 3" follows the pattern of its predecessors at the box office, it could actually fall to third, with "Avengers" holding on to second place.
The opening for "MIB 3" was actually in line with its predecessors. The first "Men In Black" opened to $51.1 million in 1997 while its sequel settled for a bit more of an opening, $52.1 million, in 2002. The first film would go on to make $250.1 million at the North American box office, easily eclipsing its $90 million budget. The second film would come in weaker, finishing its domestic run with $190.4 million, topping a $140 million production budget.
The third film could end up a loser (at least domestically) for Sony Pictures, which spent $215 million on this latest alien outing with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
Just to bring the film into better perspective, "MIB 3's" opening is actually the weakest of the three, when inflation is factored in. Adjusted for inflation, "Men In Black" earned $73.3 million on opening weekend and $358.5 million overall. The second film earned $66.6 million on opening weekend, and $243.5 million overall.
"MIB 3" received mixed but positive reviews from critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences seemed to like it a little better, with 78 percent of more than 229,000 surveyed saying they liked it. However, that will likely not be enough to push the film over the $200 million mark domestically.
There is good news for "The Avengers," however. It may not be No. 1 anymore, but it could be about to make history.
With its $513.7 million domestic haul, "Avengers" is now the No. 4 movie of all time, moving ahead of "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope." By next weekend, it's expected to displace "The Dark Knight" as the No. 3 movie of all time, surpassing that film's $533.3 million take in 2008.
The best news, however, is that there is now some real chatter that "Avengers" could actually displace "Titanic" as the No. 2 film of all time. That 1997 drama from director James Cameron has earned $600.8 million domestically. Although weekend numbers are starting to really come down for "Avengers," there is a chance the film could scratch its way to cross the $600 million mark.
That is going to be made increasingly more difficult in coming weeks. Not only is "Avengers" suffering the drawdown that all movies get after opening weekend, but it's also set to go against some big films, including "Snow White" next week and the Ridley Scott film "Prometheus" the following week.
Where the film is at by mid-June will say a lot about its chances of toppling "Titanic," because if "Avengers" did do that, it would likely have to reach that goal by the end of June.
In other film news, "The Hunger Games" brought its total domestic box office up to $395.2 million, according to The Numbers. That film will cross the $400 million barrier, but probably won't be for at least a couple more weeks.
"Hunger Games" earned $2.2 million this week, grabbing the No. 9 slot after 66 days in theaters.
Universal's sci-fi dramatization of a popular board game "Battleship" fell from second to third in its second week, losing 58 percent of its audience to earn $10.8 million. That brings its two-week total to $44.3 million. That film, which cost $209 million to make, will almost certainly flop, and would be lucky to even cross $100 million domestically.
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