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‘Men in Black: International’ Poised to Lead Sluggish Box Office

The box office is going galactic.

Sony’s “Men in Black: International” is expected to earn $30 million when it debuts in 4,200 North American this weekend. That kind of ticket sales would lag significantly below that of its predecessors, but it should still be enough to lead domestic box office charts.

“MiB: International,” the fourth entry in the sci-fi saga, comes seven years after “MiB 3” and a quarter of a century since Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith first introduced audiences to the top-secret agency. This time around, Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth are spearheading the London bureau’s precarious mission to protect the Earth from an alien species. Like the “Men in Black” installments that came before it, the upcoming action adventure will rely heavily on the international box office to help justify its budget. Sony, along with Hemisphere and Tencent, trimmed the budget for “Men in Black: International,” shelling out $110 million to produce the film, about half of what it cost to make “MIB 3.” It opens day and date in nearly all foreign markets.

“The Fate of the Furious” helmer F. Gary Gray directed “MiB: International.” “Thor: Ragnarok” co-stars Hemsworth and Thompson will be joined by Emma Thompson, reprising her role from “Men in Black 3,” along with Rebecca Ferguson, Liam Neeson, and Kumail Nanjiani in a scene-stealing voice role.

“Men in Black” isn’t the only weekend release that might look familiar to moviegoers. Warner Bros. and New Line are releasing “Shaft,” a sequel to the 2000 film of the same name, which itself was a remake of the Gordon Parks-directed 1971 movie starring Richard Roundtree. It should collect $16 million to $24 million from 2,900 screens. This go-around puts the spotlight on John Shaft Jr. (Jessie Usher), the son of the eponymous character (Samuel L. Jackson). All three generation of Shaft men reunite in this movie, teaming up to investigate a suspicious death.

Moviegoers have been less than receptive to sequels as of late, with “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and “Dark Phoenix” going largely ignored by audiences this summer. “Men in Black: International,” “Shaft,” as well as upcoming titles like “Toy Story 4” are hoping to buck that trend.

On the counterprogramming front, Amazon is expanding “Late Night” nationwide. The comedy, written by Mindy Kaling and co-starring Kaling and Emma Thompson, debuted last weekend in four venues, where it picked up a solid $249,654. Nisha Ganatra directed “Late Night,” about a TV host who makes a diverse hire to spruce up her faltering show.

At the specialty box office, Focus Features’ “The Dead Don’t Die” is hitting 550 theaters. Jim Jarmusch directed the zombie comedy, which stars Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Selena Gomez, and Chloe Sevigny. The film, which debuted to mixed reviews at Cannes, follows a small town police force as it battles a zombie invasion.

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