Box Office: ‘Men in Black 3’ zaps ‘The Avengers’ to no. 2 with $18 million Friday

Nothing lasts forever and after three impressive weekends “The Avengers” reign at no. 1 appears to be over. On Friday, “Men in Black 3” debuted to $18 million.

The third installment in the franchise may have taken 10 years to get to off the ground, but audiences are embracing the Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin comedy enough for an estimated $70-75 million for the four-day Memorial Day weekend frame. That’s hardly a record-setting debut, but studio Sony Pictures will take it. The company may have more concerns about the picture’s international grosses which are markedly less than projected so far.

Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” found another $9.6 million for a remarkable $486.3 million to date. The Marvel Studios phenomenon is currently the no. 4 biggest U.S. grosser of all time and could easily pass “The Dark Knight’s” $533.3 million no. 3 tally sometime next weekend. Looking less likely, however, is surpassing the $658.5 million mark of “Titanic” in the all-time list’s no. 2 slot.

Also opening on Friday’s was Warner Bros. and Alcorn Entertainment’s thriller “Chernobyl Diaries” with $3.5 million. The Oren Peli-produced found footage horror flick will be lucky to scare up $11-12 million for the holiday weekend. That’s somewhat disappointing, but with horrible reviews and a D+ Cinemascore rating, both Warners and Alcon will be hoping to forget about “Chernobyl” by Tuesday.

Dropping with a big thud to fourth is Universal Pictures’ “Battleship.” The Peter Berg adventure found just $3 million on Friday for $36.5 million in eight days.

With just $227 million overseas and a reported budget of $225 million plus, “Battleship” has turned out to be a major summer and tentpole miscalculation for the studio. They’ll hopefully turn things around with “Snow White and the Huntsman” on June 1.

With another $2.7 million on Friday, fifth place went to Sacha Baron Cohen’ “The Dictator.” The Paramount Pictures comedy hasn’t been the minor hit the studio was hoping for with just $34.6 million in 10 days. The studio will likely be satisfied, however, if “The Dictator” can end its domestic run somewhere near $70 million.

Look for updated box office estimates all weekend long on HitFix.