Memorial Day weekend is typically one of Hollywood's most profitable periods of the year, as summer's first batch of blockbusters crowd theaters and kick off the season of popcorn flicks, sequels, and precocious Pixar premieres. This Memorial Day weekend, the Men in Black franchise returned with its third installment after a decade hiatus, earning a four-day total of $70 million — evicting The Avengers from its residence at the top of the box office chart for the first time in a month. Here, a look at the weekend's big winners and losers at the box office:
Men in Black 3 served as a "litmus test on the superstardom of the Last Great Movie Star, Will Smith," says Claude Brodesser-Akner at New York. Topping the box office with a respectable gross, the film proves he is "still kind of a star." MIB3 will easily surge past $100 million at the box office, making it Smith's 13th film to do so, "a truly impressive feat," says Grady Smith at Entertainment Weekly.
Men in Black 3
Men in Black 3 may have fallen just short of industry expectations for its debut weekend, but its solid $70 million haul proves that "enthusiasm and nostalgia" for the franchise remains high, says Ryan J. Downey at MTV. Plus, it accomplished what Johnny Depp (Dark Shadows) and a $300 million aliens vs. the Navy blockbuster (Battleship) couldn't: Defeat The Avengers.
Even though The Avengers was knocked out of the top slot, the blockbuster continued to rack up Hulk-sized profits, collecting an additional $46.9 million over the weekend and raising its domestic total to $523.6 million. Add in international ticket sales, and The Avengers has raked in $1.3 billion — the fourth-highest total ever, trailing only Avatar, Titanic, and the Harry Potter finale.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The geriatric British comedy is the most "underreported success so far this year," says Gregory Ellwood at HitFix. The ensemble film — which stars Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and more — expanded to 1,233 theaters in its fourth weekend of release, surging 97 percent to an $8.2 million gross. Marigold Hotel "has already astounded with $18.4 million," and should easily — and unexpectedly — cross the $40 million mark domestically. Overseas, the film is a bonafide hit, earning $78 million so far.
Wes Anderson's bewitchingly droll comedy grossed $669,000 from just four theaters over the four-day weekend. The impressive take pushed Moonrise Kingdom over Dreamgirls as the live action film with the best per-screen debut.
Men in Black 3
Men in Black 3 is one of the year's most expensive releases, says Amy Kaufman at the Los Angeles Times, and many expected that the film would make at least $250 million globally this weekend. That makes its $202 million total an undeniable disappointment. When the domestic grosses of the original two Men in Black films are adjusted for inflation, their totals soar to $432.6 million and $259.6 million, respectively, says Smith. MIB3 doesn't have a prayer of reaching those heights.
In its second week of release, the already underperforming Battleship sank even deeper. Ticket sales — which were modest to begin with — plummeted 57 percent, bringing in just $13.8 million over the four-day weekend. Its domestic total now stands at a pitiful $47 million, and likely won't hit $100 million — a huge embarrassment considering the film's reported $209 million budget. Battleship "is now officially in poorer shape than Disney's John Carter," which is considered one of the biggest flops of all time, says Brodesser-Akner.
After Chronicle, The Devil Inside, and Insidious all outpaced industry expectations, "found footage" films — popularized by the Paranormal Activity franchise — were considered guaranteed successes. But Chernobyl Diaries, about friends who run into trouble at a nuclear power plant, "barely made a dent at the box office," says Kaufman. The Oren Peli-produced film grossed just $9.3 million — "far from the heights of Peli's popular Paranormal Activity franchise," says Smith.