“The Avengers” is in its fourth weekend, which means that it finally is likely to lose its number one rank at the box office. The threat comes from “Men in Black III,” the long time coming sequel that no one really quite asked for. Now it’s here, though, and with family friendly ratings, the return of Will Smith, last seen being one of the world’s few bankable stars, and a familiar title (at least to people over age 15), it’s widely considered to be the one that will knock “The Avengers” off its throne.
But uneasily sits the crown on this soon to be coronated king. “Men in Black III” earned $1..6 billion in midnight showings, which gives it the minor compliment of having performed better than “Battleship” ($650,000). However, for comparison’s sake, last day’s Memorial Day weekend release “The Hangover Part II” earned $10.4 million at midnight shows. That movie went on to take in $135 million over the four day weekend. “Men in Black III is expected to earn in the $85-90 million range (numbers from The Hollywood Reporter). That’s respectable, but hardly a smash.
Reviews for “MIB 3″ have so far been in the “okay” to “not as bad as I feared range,” but this isn’t a movie whose box office will be built on reviews; it’s depending on how much people still like Smith, and how attached former fans still are to the franchise. The film does have one big advantage over many summer action blockbusters, though–it comes in at a swift 103 (or 106, depending on where you look) minutes, which means theater owners will be able to squeeze in more showings than they might have for a 2 1/2 hour movie. I don’t know whether Barry Sonnenfeld and company purposefully aimed for that because they realize that comedies, even action ones, are better on the short side, or that shorter movies appeal to families. Or after that rough, long shoot, did they just look at all their footage and say, “Uhhhh…this is all we’ve got.” Whichever, it’s nice to see a movie that doesn’t stagger around for 2 plus hours.