It was the calm before the storm at the box office over the weekend. "The Avengers" smashed records as the Marvel/Disney powerhouse flick began to open overseas, but in North America (where it has yet to open), "Think Like a Man" was able to top the box office for a second weekend with a relatively soft $18 million.
"The Avengers" was #1 in all 39 foreign territories where it opened, taking in $178.4 million around the world. The superhero team-up flick that unites Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye set box-office records in places like Mexico, Brazil, Taiwan, the Philippines and Hong Kong. "The Avengers" is now #9 on the all-time foreign-openings chart despite the fact that it has yet to open in China, Russia or Japan. It opens this weekend in the U.S.
Domestically, "Think Like a Man" faced competition from four new movies that all underwhelmed with their debuts.
"The Pirates! Band of Misfits" was #2 with $11.4 million. The stop-motion animation movie is the latest from Britain's Aardman Animation, whose "Arthur Christmas" opened at $12.1 million in November of last year. In positive news for the film, "Pirates!" has already recouped its estimated $50 million budget worldwide. At press time, it also enjoyed a 86 percent "Tomatometer" score on Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates reviews from film critics. "It makes for an experience that, while geared toward younger, more fidgety audiences, has enough humor to keep Mom and Dad from falling asleep," The Washington Post reported.
"The Five Year Engagement" was a dud at fifth place with $11.16 million, much lower than director Nick Stoller's "Get Him to the Greek" ($17.5 million) and his previous collaboration with Jason Segel, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" ($17.7 million). "Engagement" producer Judd Apatow's "Bridesmaids" opened with $26.2 million last spring.
Jason Statham's "Safe" was #6 with $7.7 million, which was lower than the opening weekends for both his "The Mechanic" ($11.4 million) and "Killer Elite" ($9.4 million). Rounding out the weekend's new wide releases, "The Raven" was #7 with $7.3 million. The movie stars John Cusack as a fictionalized version of Edgar Allan Poe.
"Think Like a Man," featuring a story based on the self-help book from comedian Steve Harvey, has earned $60.9 million in two weeks against an estimated production budget of just $12 million. Zac Efron's "The Lucky One" dipped to #3 on the box-office chart with $11.3 million in its second weekend for a two-week gross of $39.9 million. "The Hunger Games" was #4 with $11.3 million. The first entry in the planned trilogy has made $372.5 million domestically to date.
Of the movies in the top seven, only "Pirates!," "The Hunger Games" and "The Five-Year Engagement" have done well with critics. Reviews for "The Raven," which was directed by James McTeigue ("V for Vendetta"), have been particularly harsh. "It's just a bore; quoth the raven, 'Go see something else,' " wrote Associated Press movie writer David Germain.
Which movies are brave enough to do battle with "Marvel's The Avengers" this weekend? Smaller, limited-release films like "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (starring Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Bill Nighy), horror flick "Mother's Day" (from the maker of the second, third and fourth "Saw" movies) and Miley Cyrus' "LOL" will be the only movies attempting to sneak in under the radar alongside what is sure to be one of the year's biggest movies.
Critics are already heaping praise on "The Avengers," which follows on the heels of the already well-reviewed precursor Marvel movies "Iron Man" (94 percent Tomatometer), "The Incredible Hulk" (66 percent), "Iron Man 2" (74 percent), "Thor" (77 percent) and "Captain America: The First Avenger" (79 percent). Christie Lemire of The Associated Press proclaimed, "The dialogue sparkles as brightly as the special effects; these people may be wearing ridiculous costumes but they're well fleshed-out underneath. And so in every regard, this movie truly fulfills its hype." Justin Chang of Variety agreed: "Like a superior, state-of-the-art model built from reconstituted parts, [director/co-writer] Joss Whedon's buoyant, witty and robustly entertaining superhero smash-up is escapism of a sophisticated order."
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