The Dictator Review
Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon
  • Movie

Once again, it was all about The Avengers at the box office, as three new releases failed to even approach the Marvel superhero blockbuster’s third-weekend gross of $55.1 million, according to studio estimates.

The movie dropped 47 percent — an admirable hold for a picture that’s putting up such huge numbers. By the end of Sunday, The Avengers will have made an estimated $457.1 million domestically, passing $450 million in a record 17 days. (The previous record holder, The Dark Knight, reached that milestone in 27 days.) Meanwhile, The Avengers also passed Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest to become Disney’s biggest movie ever both domestically and worldwide. It now sits in fourth place on the all-time worldwide chart, behind only Avatar, Titanic, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2.

The Avengers‘ continued dominance meant fewer moviegoers for Battleship, which sunk on arrival with only $25.3 million. That’s the worst domestic opening ever for a movie with a reported budget of at least $200 million. (Universal spent $209 million on the PG-13 picture.) It’s also a smaller debut than this year’s other notorious flop, John Carter, which started out with $30.2 million. To the dismay of Tim Riggins fans everywhere, Taylor Kitsch has now starred in two of the year’s biggest bombs.

Credit: Frank Masi

Battleship has so far earned $226.8 million overseas, which will help to lessen the damage from the movie’s dismal opening here. Also, Universal will clearly be hoping that the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend will soften the film’s second-weekend decline.

Still, no matter how you look at it, Battleship‘s performance is a major disappointment. Moviegoers weren’t able to get past the idea of a seeing a board-game adaptation crossed with an alien-invasion flick, although those who did see it gave it an okay “B” rating according to the market-research firm CinemaScore. Battleship struggled to attract younger moviegoers, as 55 percent of its audience was at least 30 years old. Men represented 57 percent of ticket buyers.

In third place, The Dictator collected a decent $17.4 million for a five-day tally of $24.5 million. (The movie opened on Wednesday.) The result is a bit of a setback for star Sacha Baron Cohen, whose prior comedies Borat and Bruno debuted to $26.5 million and $30.6 million, respectively. Now the question is whether the Paramount movie will fall at the same velocity as Bruno, which ultimately ended its domestic run with just $60.1 million. Both The Dictator and Bruno earned a poor “C” grade from CinemaScore audiences, which isn’t a promising sign. However, whereas Bruno dropped an alarming 39 percent from Friday to Saturday, The Dictator managed to rise 16 percent.

The Dictator Review
AN ‘IDIOT’ ABROAD Known for his outrageous characters, Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest is the tyrannical General Admiral Aladeen in The Dictator
| Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

The movie cost $65 million to produce and drew a young, male crowd — 65 percent of the audience was male, and 56 percent was under the age of 25. Overseas, The Dictator fared well for an R-rated comedy, earning $30.3 million in 29 markets and topping the weekend in Australia and a number of European territories, including the United Kingdom and Germany.

The weekend’s other new comedy, Lionsgate’s pregnancy-themed What to Expect When You’re Expecting, debuted to an underwhelming $10.5 million. The PG-13 movie, which cost $40 million and features an ensemble including Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Rock, and Dennis Quaid, attracted a crowd that was 70 percent female and 64 percent over the age of 25. CinemaScore participants gave it a lackluster “B-” rating.

Among holdovers, the Tim Burton film Dark Shadows plunged a steep 57 percent for $12.8 million. The $125 million horror comedy, starring Johnny Depp as an out-of-his-time vampire, has so far drained $50.9 million domestically and $81.3 million overseas.

In limited release, the sports drama Crooked Arrows, starring Superman Returns‘ Brandon Routh as the coach of a Native American lacrosse team, scored a surprisingly solid $280,000 from 55 theaters. The British geriatric comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continued to excel in limited release, grossing $3.3 million from 354 locations. However, another British comedy, Hysteria, debuted to only $40,800 at five theaters.

1. The Avengers — $55.1 mil

2. Battleship — $25.3 mil

3. The Dictator — $17.4 mil

4. Dark Shadows — $12.8 mil

5. What to Expect When You’re Expecting — $10.5 mil

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  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 131 minutes