Marvel Studios
May 19, 2012 at 05:36 PM EDT

Three new movies confronted The Avengers this weekend, and the Hulk smashed them around as if they all starred Loki.

The Marvel superhero phenomenon dropped a mild 48 percent for $15.3 million on Friday. That means it’ll easily win its third weekend in a row with around $55 million, bringing its domestic tally to $457 million or thereabouts. It should pass $450 million on Sunday, becoming the fastest movie to do so in only 17 days. (The Dark Knight pulled off the same feat in 27 days.) Also, The Avengers will pass Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest today to become Disney’s highest-grossing film ever.

The Avengers‘ good news spelled bad news for Battleship, which debuted to a dismal $9 million on Friday. That puts the board game-inspired action film on pace for a $26 million weekend — a result that Universal clearly didn’t have in mind when it green-lighted the $209 million picture. By comparison, the year’s other big expensive flop, Disney’s John Carter, mustered a slightly better $30.2 million its first weekend. Both movies starred Taylor Kitsch, whose young career is getting off to an incredibly unfortunate start.

Battleship‘s underwhelming opening will be somewhat mitigated by the fact that it’s already grossed more than $220 million overseas. (Although, again, John Carter ultimately earned $200.6 million abroad, meaning the two films might end up with rather similar global totals.) Universal will also be hoping that Memorial Day weekend will cushion Battleship‘s second-weekend decline. The flick received an okay “B” rating from CinemaScore audiences. According to the market-research company, 57 percent of movie’s audience was male, and 66 percent was at least 25 years old.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s new comedy, The Dictator, added $5.7 million on Friday. (The R-rated movie opened on Wednesday.) That puts the $65 million picture on track for a $16 million weekend and a five-day total of about $23 million. That’s a disappointing result considering that Baron Cohen’s Borat and Bruno debuted to $26.5 million and $30.6 million, respectively. Like Bruno, The Dictator earned a poor “C” grade from CinemaScore, which is reporting that the movie skewed male (65 percent of the audience) and young (56 percent under the age of 25).

The weekend’s other new comedy, the pregnancy-themed What to Expect When You’re Expecting, fared even worse and delivered only $3.9 million on Friday. The PG-13 ensemble movie, starring so many actors that one of them is likely a relative of yours, should finish the weekend with no more than $12 million. The film, which cost $40 million to produce, picked up a discouraging “B-” grade from CinemaScore audiences. Women represented 67 percent of the audience, and the movie drew a predominantly adult crowd, with 77 percent of the audience at least 25 years old.

In fifth place, the Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaboration Dark Shadows plunged 61 percent for $3.8 million and should finish the weekend neck-and-neck with What to Expect. The vampire flick, which cost at least $125 million to make, has so far drained just $41.9 million. Check back here on Sunday for the complete box office report.

1. The Avengers — $15.3 mil

2. Battleship — $9.0 mil

3. The Dictator — $5.7 mil

4. What to Expect When You’re Expecting — $3.9 mil

5. Dark Shadows — $3.8 mil

Read more:

Box office preview: Will ‘Battleship’ sink ‘The Avengers’?

Movie review: ‘Battleship’

Movie review: ‘The Dictator’

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