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Sony’s “Men In Black: International” has launched with $3.1 million at 3,472 North American locations in Thursday night previews.

The fourth iteration of the sci-fi comedy franchise stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson as black-suited agents dealing with a baffling series of alien attacks against the Earth. “Men in Black: International” is opening at 4,224 sites amid expectations of a $30 million launch weekend in North America.

“Men In Black: International” takes place in the same universe as the previous trilogy with Emma Thompson reprising her role as Agent O. Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall and twins Laurent and Larry Bourgeois also star. The film, set in the London bureau of the top-secret Men In Black organization, is directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, based on the Malibu Comic by Lowell Cunningham. Producers are Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. The budget for “Men in Black: International” is $110 million, co-financed by Hemisphere and Tencent.

The previous three “Men in Black” films starred Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and combined for more than $1.6 billion in worldwide box office. All three scored North American debut weekends of more than $50 million. “Men In Black: International” is also launching in most international markets.

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” took in $6.3 million in Thursday night previews two weeks ago. “Dark Phoenix” scored $5 million in previews a week ago.

New Line is opening “Shaft,” the fifth film in the franchise, at 2,952 domestic venues with Jessie Usher playing John “JJ” Shaft Jr., an FBI agent and a cybersecurity expert with a degree from MIT. Samuel L. Jackson plays his estranged father and Richard Roundtree plays his grandfather, the original Shaft, as he did in the first three “Shaft” movies in the early 1970s. “Shaft” has been projected to collect between $16 million and $24 million during its first three days in theaters. The film took in $600,000 in Thursday night previews.

The weekend will also see Amazon Studios expand its comedy “Late Night,” starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, to 2,218 North American sites amid forecasts in the $5 million to $9 million range. “Late Night” was acquired by Amazon following its Sundance premiere  for a record $13 million and launched in four locations last weekend with a solid $246,035.

Universal’s second weekend of “The Secret Life of Pets 2” will probably finish second in the $20 million to $25 million range. “Shaft” is likely to contend for third place along with Fox’s second weekend of “Dark Phoenix” and Disney’s fourth frame of “Aladdin.”

Year-to-date domestic box office as of June 12 has hit $4.93 billion, down 6% from the same point last year. Paul Dergarbedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, noted that the gap has been narrowing since the launch of “Avengers: Endgame,” which has topped $826 million in seven weeks.

“Despite some under-performing tentpole movies of late, the strong overall performance of the summer movie season over the past couple of weekends has delivered to the industry an advantage of 11% over the May through mid-June period vs. last year while knocking the year-to-date deficit down week after week,” he added. “The $182.7 million debut of ‘Incredibles 2’ on the same weekend of 2018 will slow the recent box office upswing.”