‘Men’ wins weekend with $70 mil Stateside

Sony's sci-fi laffer bests 'Avengers,' which surpasses $500 mil at domestic B.O.

The domestic box office crowned a new leader over the long Memorial Day weekend, with Sony’s “Men in Black 3” grossing an estimated $70 million in four days. Pic, which scored $202 million worldwide this weekend, beat previous three-weekend champ “The Avengers,” which collected another estimated $47.1 million domestically though Monday.

“Black” launched in 106 day-and-date overseas countries, nabbing the top spot in all but two. China led the charge outside the U.S., with $19 million, followed closely by Russia, which contributed $18.8 million for “Black” this weekend.

The Disney-Marvel B.O. phenom, meanwhile, surpassed the $500 million Stateside mark on Saturday (its 23rd day of release), making “Avengers” the fastest-growing pic to hit that milestone — beating “Avatar,” which did so in 32 days.

While “MIB” and “Avengers” did their best to prop up the weekend, totals still trailed 2011’s Memorial Day weekend by a considerable 32%. That’s because last year benefited from two big openers: “The Hangover Part 2” collected $103 million in four days, while “Kung Fu Panda 2” grossed nearly $61 million.

Estimates will vary slightly on Monday, when distribs release their final four-day figures.

Beside “Black,” the only other wide newcomer this weekend was Warner Bros.’ paltry opening for low-budget chiller “Chernobyl Diaries.” The pic grossed through Sunday just $8 million. (Warners will release four-day estimates on Monday.)

Fox Searchlight’s specialty V.I.P. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” performed well in its first weekend of wide release, grossing an estimated three-day tally of $6.4 million. Searchlight expanded the counterprogrammer to 1,233 locations, up from 354 last weekend. So far, “Hotel” has earned more than $16 million Stateside, added to its overseas cume at north of $80 million.

Focus Features scored a major coup this weekend, with “Moonrise Kingdom” scoring the best per-screen average — a crazy-good $127,218 from four locations — of the past few years.

Last year, “Midnight in Paris” scored top per honors with approximately $99,800, while “Precious” and “The Princess and the Frog” (both released November 2009) were the last pics before “Moonrise” to average more than $100,000 per-screen during opening weekend.

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