"Men in Black" sequel powers past "Avengers"

Mon May 28, 2012 1:02pm EDT
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By Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Will Smith's return as Agent J to the popular "Men in Black" comedy franchise zapped invading aliens and toppled the steam rolling super hero film "The Avengers" from atop movie box office charts, grabbing $203.2 million in worldwide ticket sales.

"MIB 3," starring Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in roles they last played a decade ago, opened with $70 million in the United States and Canada from Friday through the U.S. Memorial Day holiday on Monday, according to estimates compiled by Reuters.

The third installment in the franchise pulled in another $133.2 million from international markets, distributor Sony Pictures said, and was the top-ranked film in 104 countries.

"It helps when you have a big brand that everyone wants to see," said Jeff Blake, Vice Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and the studio's marketing chief. "And it's even better when the film delivers."

Sony research showed that 97 percent of moviegoers were already aware of "Men in Black," which Blake attributed to renewed interest by viewers of online and other new media distribution.

Nearly 30 percent of the movie's audience were families, Blake said, a number that bodes well for its continued play "when the fan boys are no longer there."

The superhero strength of "Avengers" weakened after three weeks at No. 1 in North American (U.S. and Canadian) ticket sales. The global blockbuster finished in second place with ticket sales of $47.1 million. The worldwide haul since its record debut reached $1.6 billion, distributor Walt Disney Co said

Even with its large opening, the big-budget, effects-filled "MIB 3" fell short of some pre-weekend forecasts, which had projected a domestic debut of $80 million.   Continued...

Cast member Tommy Lee Jones arrives for the premiere of "Men In Black 3" in New York May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly