Box Office: ‘The Avengers’ sinks both ‘Battleship’ and ‘The Dictator’ Friday

“The Avenger” passed the $400 million mark on Thursday and even with two new releases entering the market on Friday, the Marvel Studios blockbuster hasn’t missed a beat. 

Joss Whedon’s pop culture phenomenon found another $15.3 million on its 15th day for an amazing $417.3 million so far. This means “The Avengers” has crossed into the top 10 of all-time domestic grossers passing “Toy Story 3” which found $415 million two years ago. By Sunday, the picture could pass “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” which grossed $435.1 million for no.7 all time. And, as the days go by, it’s clear the film will surpass “The Dark Knight’s” $533 million take in the third slot.  Can it pass “Titanic’s” $658.4 million at no. 2?  The Memorial Day Weekend coming up may shed some light on how long its box office fire will burn.

Opening under expectations at no. 2 was “Battleship” with $9 million.  The Peter Berg action flick could do $24-28 million this weekend depending on word of mouth. The picture, which has already opened around the globe, only recorded a B Cinemascore grade which isn’t a good sign for its long term prospects.  The film’s budget has been reported at over $220 million, but internationally its only made $215 million.  After a fantastic year of strong hits like “Safe House,” “The Lorax,” “Contraband” and “American Reunion” (a shocking $200 million worldwide), this is an even worse stumble for Universal than the shocking performance of “The Five-Year Engagement” last month. The studio will have to hope they get back on track with “Snow White and the Huntsman” next month.

Also disappointing in third place is “The Dictator.” The Sacha Baron Cohen comedy opened on Wednesday and grossed just $7 million in two days.  Friday didn’t provide good news as it found just $5.7 million. At best, the Paramount Pictures release could have $25-28 million in the bank by Sunday, but that’s highly unlikely. Paramount will have to hope international grosses help cover the film’s $65 million production budget and large marketing spend. And, after both “Bruno” and “Dictator” haven’t been anywhere close to “Borat,” Cohen’s ability to topline major Hollywood productions will start to come under greater scrutiny.

An example of counter programming gone wrong, Lionsgate’s “What To Expect When Your Expecting” grossed only $3.8 million for what should be a $11-13 million three-day cume. Somehow, the collective ensemble star power of Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Chace Crawford, Chris Rock, Dennis Quaid and Matthew Morrison wasn’t enough to entice fans of the New York Times Bestseller that it was based upon to theaters. After December’s disastrous bomb “New Year’s Eve,” this is the second major stunt-ensemble romantic comedy that has failed to resonate with moviegoers.

“Dark Shadows” fell to fifth with just $3.8 million and 41.9 million in just 8 days. The comedy should surpass Tim Burton’s “Big Fish” which made $66 million in 2003, but won’t come anywhere near the blockbuster hits of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” or “Alice in Wonderland.”  Again, another summer release with a big budget that is now hoping foreign moviegoers can pick up the slack so it can at least break even.

Look for complete weekend estimates Sunday on HitFix.