Box office preview: 'Men in Black 3' set to invade theaters, finally dethrone 'The Avengers'

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Image Credit: Wilson Webb

Will Smith is back!

After three years away from the big screen, the bankable star of blockbusters like I Am Legend, Independence Day, and Hancock has returned with Men In Black 3, a 10-years-later sequel in the lighthearted alien franchise.

The original Men In Black earned $250.7 million in 1997, and in 2002, Men In Black II found $190.4 million. Now, MIB 3 is poised to bring in another boatload of money — finally unseating The Avengers from the box office throne.

Also entering theaters is horror flick The Chernobyl Diaries, which won’t make nearly as much as MIB 3 (but didn’t cost nearly as much, either).

Check out my weekend box office predictions — which are for the regular three-day weekend, rather than the extended Memorial Day holiday frame — below:

1. Men In Black 3 – $60 million

Sony’s mega-budgeted sequel was plagued with production problems — its budget ballooned to about $230 million, and shooting came to a halt midway through so that the script could be finished — so with all that negative cost (and publicity), MIB 3 will have to do extremely well with nostalgic audiences to prove itself a legitimate success. Ten years have passed since the last Men In Black movie, which may keep younger moviegoers away. Still, there are more than enough older patrons (the same crowd that’s been turning up for The Avengers) who should come out for a happy summer popcorn film starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith (plus Josh Brolin this time around) — and they might even bring their families. Opening in 4,248 theaters (many of those 3-D), expect MIB 3 to take in about $60 million over the three-day weekend, and up to $75 million when including Monday’s grosses.

2. The Avengers – $43 million

In its fourth weekend, the superhero ensemble film may dip by about 25 percent (a drop inflated by the loss of 3-D screens to MIB 3, but lessened by the holiday weekend), giving the picture a $42 million weekend, which would help the action movie sail right past the $500 million mark.

3. Battleship – $15 million

Battleship was already sunk after its wretched opening weekend, and the $209 million Universal film will only keep sinking from here — although a bit slower than usual thanks to Memorial Day. A 40-percent drop (and frankly, that’s an optimistic outlook) would give Battleship a $15 million weekend and a sad $49 million total.

4. The Chernobyl Diaries – $12 million

Written and produced by Oren Peli, the man behind the Paranormal Activity series, The Chernobyl Diaries is hoping to tap into the found-footage craze that turned January’s The Devil Inside into a horror hit. Unfortunately, that craze relies on male moviegoers (and on actually being a found footage movie, which Chernobyl isn’t) who are in high demand at the box office right now between Battleship, The Avengers, The Dictator, and MIB 3. Warner Brothers (who did not disclose a budget, as they acquired the film from Alcon Entertainment) is releasing the film in 2,433 theaters, but it may have to settle for a mere $12 million, which is fine, given the film’s likely low negative costs.

5. The Dictator – $11 million

Sacha Baron Cohen’s intentionally offensive $65 million comedy will likely take in another $11 million by Sunday, which would bring its cume to $43 million in 11 days. His last satirical character comedy, Bruno, had earned $50.7 million at the same point in its run.

After weeks of strong play in limited release, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel gets a wide expansion tomorrow. The sleeper hit may double its total over the holiday weekend with a four-day gross around $10 million. It has an outside shot of breaking into the Top 5.

For box office updates throughout the weekend, follow me on Twitter, and stay tuned to EW for conprehensive coverage over the next four days.

What are you planning to see this weekend?

Read more:
‘Men in Black 3′ premiere: A holly jolly, slap-free evening
Box office report: ‘The Avengers’ crushes ‘Battleship’ and ‘The Dictator’ with $55.1 mil

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