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Weekend Box Office Report: ‘The Avengers’ Sinks ‘Battleship’

Box Office Report, 5/20/12
Universal

Battleship‘ was supposed to be the film that nudged ‘The Avengers‘ out of the number one spot at the box office, but instead you can just go ahead and insert your own “You sank my battleship!” joke here. ‘The Avengers’ didn’t cling to the top spot for the third week in a row, it dominated the top spot for the third week in a row, taking in another $55 million for a grand domestic total of $457 million.

1. The Avengers: $55,057,000 ($457,078,000)

2. Battleship: $25,300,000 ($25,300,000)

3. The Dictator: $17,415,000 ($24,456,000)

4. Dark Shadows: $12,770,000 ($50,908,000)

5. What to Expect When You’re Expecting: $10,500,000 ($10,500,000)

6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: $3,250,000 ($8,257,000)

7. The Hunger Games: $3,000,000 ($391,631,000)

8. Think Like a Man: $2,700,000 ($85,888,000)

9. The Lucky One: $1,765,000 ($56,921,000)

10. The Pirates: Band of Misfits: $1,450,000 ($25,362,000)

Internationally, ‘The Avengers’ took in another Scrooge McDuck Money Vault sized load of cash, bringing its overall total to $1,180,378. When you write box office reports, seven figure numbers aren’t necessarily common, so these are exciting times indeed. With this weekend, ‘The Avengers’ is now the sixth highest grossing film of all time domestically (it’s number 61 when you adjust for inflation, which is still mighty impressive) and the fourth highest grossing film of time internationally. It didn’t break the record for the biggest third weekend of all time (that record is still held by ‘Avatar‘), but who cares: no movie has ever made this much money this fast and it’s still not showing any sign of slowing down.

Which brings us to ‘Battleship,’ which arrived dead in the water (haha, boat puns). The $250 million movie opened to only $25 million, a number that cannot be salvaged by any kind of spin. Make no mistake: this is a disaster. In fact, it’s the biggest disaster since ‘John Carter.’ In other words, you don’t want to be Taylor Kitsch right now, the man who was unfortunate enough to take the lead roles in what turned out to be the two biggest bombs of 2012 (so far). This may very well signify the end of Kitsch’s career as a Hollywood leading man, but surely Tim Riggins will always have a home as a supporting character on quality television shows.

The sad truth is that the failures of ‘Battleship’ and ‘John Carter’ (which petered out at $72 million) are not Kitsch’s fault at all. He’s perfectly capable in both films, but the latter was the victim of of a horrid advertising campaign and the former was just proof that audiences draw the line somewhere and that line is big budget board game adaptations (although they’re perfectly cool with toy adaptations, strangely). Although the director of ‘Friday Night Lights’ (the movie) and an actor from ‘Friday Night Lights’ (the show) deserve all of the success in the world, we should all be grateful that every lingering board game-themed project is now completely and totally dead. Their sacrifice has saved us from a ‘Monopoly’ or ‘Candyland’ movie. Hopefully.

With all of the hubbub over the success of ‘The Avengers’ and the bombing of ‘Battleship’ (these puns write themselves, folks), ‘The Dictator‘ squeaked by with thoroughly mediocre numbers. After opening on Wednesday to avoid directly butting heads with the big boys, Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest attempt to offend everyone on the planet earned $17 million for a total of $24 million. That isn’t that much lower than ‘Borat’s $26 million opening in 2006, but ‘The Dictator’ cost significantly more and won’t even come close to earning as much. It’s not like Cohen’s career is in trouble, though. In addition to being absurdly talented, he’s worked with Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton and will be in ‘Les Miserables’ later this year. He’ll keep working (and working in great stuff), but if he wants to get back to those ‘Borat’ numbers, he needs to update his comedic schtick.

The third new release of the week was also a bomb, but it didn’t cost ‘Battleship’ money so people won’t be talking about it as much. ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting‘ opened to $10 million and while we could spend an entire paragraph talking about how Cameron Diaz isn’t a real box office draw anymore or about how ‘The Avengers’ is the rare blockbuster that women are loving just as much as men (which nullifies its counter-programming potential), let’s face it: it didn’t make any money because it looked awful.

For a bright spot in the top ten that doesn’t star the Hulk, you have to look to ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,’ which is benefiting from a slow expansion, solid word of mouth and a target audience that doesn’t have any interest in ‘The Avengers’ (i.e., old people). With a weekend total of just over $3 million, the film has now grossed over $8 million, which is a lot of money for a movie called ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.’  In fact, that’s a per-theater average of $18,258 from 178 theaters. ‘The Avengers’ only averaged $12,000 per theater this weekend. Rock on Judi Dench, you rockstar, you.

There’s not much to say about the rest of the top ten. ‘Dark Shadows‘ took a dive from an already disappointing opening. ‘The Hunger Games‘ is still desperately crawling toward that $400 million mark. ‘Think Like a Man‘ is still a solid hit, but its days are waning and $100 million is suddenly looking out of the question. ‘The Lucky One‘ is still doing okay. ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits‘ is still playing to empty theaters.

Next month, ‘Men in Black 3‘ will finally knock ‘The Avengers’ off its perch, not because people are necessarily excited for it (is anyone, really?), but because it just will. That’s what happens when you’re in the Will Smith business.

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