‘The Avengers’ sinks ‘Battleship’ to remain No. 1 at box office

Chris Hemsworth portrays Thor (L) and Chris Evans portrays Captain America in a scene from “The Avengers.” (PHOTO ap)

May 21, 2012, Monday/ 17:13:00

“The Avengers” continues to muscle out everything else Hollywood throws at it, easily sinking naval rival “Battleship” and other new releases.

With $55.1 million domestically, Disney’s superhero sensation remained No. 1 for a third-straight weekend and took in more than the three big newcomers combined. Overseas, “The Avengers” added an additional $56 million. The film is approaching the $1.2 billion mark worldwide, totaling $457.1 million domestically and $723.3 million internationally.

“‘The Avengers’ is dominating the marketplace so profoundly that the newcomers are having a tough time breaking in now,” said Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. Universal’s “Battleship” opened a distant No. 2 with $25.4 million domestically, well below industry expectations. But the board-game adaptation starring Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna already has grossed $226.8 million overseas since launching in April, giving it a worldwide total of $252.1 million. “I would be glad to be No. 2 if we opened to a better number. But given the presence of an absolute juggernaut in the marketplace, there’s nothing you can do,” said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. “Not to have a shot at being No. 1 this weekend is disappointing. But it’s a challenge with ‘Avengers’ out there.”

Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy “The Dictator,” in which he plays a tyrannical third-world leader, debuted in third-place with $17.4 million for the weekend. Since opening Wednesday, the Paramount release has taken in $24.5 million. “The Dictator” opened with $30.3 million in 29 overseas markets, giving it a worldwide haul of $54.8 million. Paramount executives said they were happy with that start, but even a movie aiming for laughs had some trouble making in-roads against “The Avengers.”

“This is a full-out comedy, very different than ‘Avengers.’ But when you’ve got a movie that big, it just absolutely sucks up the marketplace,” said Anthony Marcoly, head of international distribution for Paramount.

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