‘Men in Black’ returns with $18 mil at Friday B.O.

Sony's sci-fi laffer bests 'Avengers'; pic expected to top $75 mil over long weekend

After 10 years in hiatus, Sony’s “Men in Black” is back with a third installment that earned $18 million Friday.

The supernatural laffer heads toward a four-day total in the $75 million to $80 million range courtesy of family traffic for the PG-13 film. Similar family friendly PG and PG-13 movies that have opened on Memorial Day weekend include “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” and “Bruce Almighty,” putting “Men” in good company — both “Night” and “Bruce” earned more than four times their Friday haul in their respective frosh frames.

Dethroned from first place in its fourth weekend, “The Avengers” earned $9.7 million for a domestic cume of $486.4 million. Pic will be passing the $500 million mark this weekend, making its next benchmark to eclipse “The Dark Knight’s” 2008 lifetime domestic gross of $533 million, the third highest grossing in U.S. history.

Warner Bros.’ modestly budgeted horror “Chernobyl Diaries” earned $3.5 million Friday, en route to a four-day total in the mid-teens. Behind that, Universal’s “Battleship” made $3 million Friday for a Stateside cume of $36.5 million.

In limited release, Focus Features bowed Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and The Weinstein Company imported French favorite “The Intouchables” on four screens each. “Moonrise” saw a per screen average of about $43,000 to “Intouchables'” $7,000.

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