'The Avengers’ Smashes the Competition

on May 21, 2012 by Daniel Garris

There was simply no stopping Marvel's The Avengers this weekend, as Disney's blockbuster superhero film grossed $55.64 million to lead the weekend box office with ease for a third straight frame. On top of that, The Avengers was able to slightly out-gross the combined grosses of this weekend's three new wide releases. The Avengers was down 46 percent from last weekend, which represented a solid hold given the size of the film's grosses and the amount of new product that entered the marketplace this weekend. The film also registered the second largest unadjusted third weekend gross on record, behind only the $68.49 million third weekend performance of Avatar back in January of 2010.

The Avengers has grossed a mighty $457.67 million in just 17 days and is set to smash through the $500 million domestic barrier sometime over the upcoming holiday weekend. The film is currently running 16 percent ahead of the pace of 2008's The Dark Knight and 60 percent ahead of 2002's Spider-Man. Internationally, The Avengers grossed $56.0 million from 54 territories this weekend. That brings the film's international total to $723.3 million and places the film's worldwide total at $1.181 billion.

Universal's Battleship debuted in a very disappointing second place with $25.53 million. The expensive franchise hopeful based on Hasbro's board game simply didn't appeal to mainstream audiences, especially on the heels of the success of The Avengers. While nobody was expecting Transformers-like numbers for Battleship, the film was unable to come anywhere close to the $54.71 million start of 2009's G.I. Joe, as it opened 53 percent softer. Instead, the film opened in between the $22.16 million start of 2006's Poseidon and the $30.18 million start of this year's John Carter. Battleship had an especially hard time bringing in younger moviegoers, as it skewed 55 percent towards moviegoers 30 years and older. The film also skewed significantly towards male moviegoers (57 percent).

As its international run winds down, Battleship added $6.5 million internationally this weekend. That places the film's international total at $226.8 million and worldwide total at $252.3 million. While Battleship is performing far stronger internationally, the film's international performance clearly isn't anywhere near enough to turn the tide of its poor domestic performance.

The news was better, but still not great for Paramount's The Dictator. The R-rated comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen grossed $17.44 million to place in third and has now grossed $24.48 million in five days. After a lackluster start over Wednesday and Thursday, the film did pick up the pace over the weekend. The Dictator registered a five-day to three-day weekend ratio of just 1.40 to 1, which is quite low, especially given how front-loaded 2009's Brüno was. It remains to be seen whether the solid weekend holds have more to do with early word of mouth or more with moviegoers not being aware of the Wednesday release date. While both films skewed towards male moviegoers, whereas the audience breakdown for Battleship skewed towards older adults, the audience breakdown for The Dictator skewed towards older teens and younger adults. The Dictator is currently running 34 percent softer than the $36.85 million five-day start of 2008's Tropic Thunder.

The Dictator was off to a relatively stronger start internationally, as it grossed $30.3 million from 29 foreign markets. That places the film's five-day worldwide launch at $54.8 million. Key international debuts included five-day grosses of $7.2 million in the United Kingdom and $5.7 million in Australia.

The weekend's other new wide release, Lionsgate's What to Expect When You're Expecting, debuted in fifth with a weaker than expected $10.55 million. The ensemble romantic comedy featuring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez couldn't capitalize on its collective star power or its potential to serve as an alternate to the summer's early action films. What to Expect When You're Expecting opened 48 percent softer than the $20.17 million start of 2008's What Happens in Vegas... (which starred Diaz) and 14 percent softer than the $12.20 million start of 2010's The Back-up Plan (which starred Lopez). It should be noted that What to Expect When You're Expecting was far less expensive than all of the other films currently in the top five at the box office.

Warner's Dark Shadows outpaced What to Expect When You're Expecting to land in fourth with $12.58 million. However, the big-budget collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton was down a sharp 58 percent from last weekend's already softer than expected debut. The film's ten-day start stands at just $50.72 million. Fortunately for Dark Shadows, the film held up far better internationally this weekend as it grossed $31.0 million from 52 foreign markets. That places the film's international total at $81.8 million and worldwide total at a so-so $132.5 million.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel remained strong with a sixth place take of $3.23 million. The John Madden directed film starring Judi Dench was up 21 percent over last weekend and generated a per-location average of $9,125 from 354 locations. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has grossed $8.23 million in 17 days of domestic release and is set to expand into wide release on Friday. The film's international total currently stands at $79.1 million, placing its worldwide total at $87.3 million.

Tags: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Dark Shadows, What to Expect When You're Expecting, The Dictator, Battleship, Marvel's The Avengers

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