'Men in Black 3' Beats Up 'Avengers'

By David Germain, AP Movie Writer

LOS ANGELES -- The comic action heroes of Men in Black 3 have taken over the weekend box office from the comic-book superheroes of The Avengers.

According to studio estimates Monday, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones' latest Men in Black installment debuted with $70 million domestically over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, which proved unusually quiet at theaters for Hollywood overall.

Sony's ( SNE) Men in Black 3 took over the No. 1 spot from Walt Disney's ( DIS) The Avengers, which had been the top flick for three straight weekends but slipped to second place with $46.9 million domestically.

Men in Black 3 added $133.2 million overseas for a worldwide total of $203.2 million.

"We took over the world this weekend," said Rory Bruer, Sony's head of distribution. "It's so exciting to see Will and company back in this franchise. I certainly think that most people who've seen the film think it's the best of the franchise."

The Avengers raised its domestic total to $523.6 million, making it the No. 4 movie on the all-time domestic revenue chart and only the fourth film to top half a billion dollars. The Avengers will quickly pass the No. 3 film, The Dark Knight at $533.3 million, leaving only Avatar at $760.5 million and Titanic at $658.5 million ahead of it.

While it was a good start for Men in Black 3 and another strong hold for The Avengers, Memorial Day weekend was the slowest at theaters in more than a decade. Box-office tracker Hollywood.com estimates that overall domestic receipts for the four days will finish at $190 million, the lowest since Memorial Day weekend in 2001, when revenues totaled $185.3 million.

A year ago, Hollywood pulled in a record $276.3 million over Memorial Day weekend, when The Hangover Part II debuted with $103.4 million.

In this film image released by Sony Pictures, Tommy Lee Jones, right, and Will Smith star are shown in a scene from Men in Black 3.

So far, Hollywood's summer season has been a one- or two-hit wonder, with only The Avengers doing blockbuster business and now Men in Black 3 joining it with a solid opening.

Other May releases fell far short of expectations, with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's Dark Shadows and the game adaptation Battleship swamped in the wake of The Avengers. Battleship launched in April overseas, though, where its $232 million haul helped make up for its meager $47.1 million total after two weekends domestically.

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