MONDAY, 6TH UPDATESo Men In Black 3 officially opened with a $55M three-day weekend and a $70M four-day Memorial Holiday. (Although rival studios say the numbers are slightly less: $54.5M/$68M.) That’s still not anywhere close to the $90M where Hollywood thought this popular franchise would debut its threequel, or the $80M which Sony Pictures expected. Even not adjusted for the 3D premium or higher ticket prices or inflation, MIB3 couldn’t beat Will Smith’s I Am Legend ($77M in 2007) or Hancock ($62M in 2008). MIB3‘s  international number is $133.2M for a worldwide cume of $203.2M. IMAX sales contributed worldwide approximately $12.5M, which is 20% higher than their previous record for a worldwide memorial day release. Problem is that MIB3 was very expensive to make at a cost of between $225M to $300M. Plus, demonstrating more trouble for Hollywood, overall moviegoing of $190M for this holiday weekend was down a huge -31% from last year’s record. For more analysis, see below:

Here’s the Top Ten (based on 4-day holiday estimates):

1. Men in Black 3 3D (Columbia/Sony) NEW [4,248 Theaters] PG13
Friday $17.8M, Saturday $19.2M, Sunday $17.9M, Estimated Monday $15.0M
3-Day Weekend $55M, 4-Day Holiday $70M,
International Cume $133.2M, Global Cume $203.2M

2. Marvel’s The Avengers 3D (Disney) Week 4 [3,918 Theaters] PG13
Friday $9.6M, Saturday $14.1M, Sunday $13.2M, Monday
3-Day Weekend $36.7M, 4-Day Holiday $46.8M, Cume $523.6M
International Cume $281.9M, Global Cume $1.305B

3. Battleship (Universal) Week 2 [3,702 Theaters] PG13
Friday $3.0M (-65%), Saturday $4.1M, Sunday $3.8M, Monday
3-Day Weekend $10.9M, 4-Day Holiday $13.8M, Cume $47.3M
International Cume $232.4M, Global Cume $279.7M

4. The Dictator (Paramount) Week 2 [3,014 Theaters] R
Friday $2.7M (-51%), Saturday $3.3M, Sunday $3.1M, Monday
3-Day Weekend $9.2M, 4-Day Holiday $11.7M, Cume $43.6M
International Cume $50.3M, Global Cume $93.9M

5. Dark Shadows 3D (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,404 Theaters] PG13
Friday $2.0M, Saturday $2.8M, Sunday $2.5M, Monday
3-Day Weekend $7.4M, 4-Day Holiday $9.4M, Cume $64.9M
International Cume $106.6M, Global Cume $171.5M

6. Chernobyl Diaries (Alcon/Warner Bros) NEW [2,433 Theaters] R
Friday $3.5M, Saturday $2.3M, Sunday $2.0M, Monday
3-Day Weekend $7.9M, 4-Day Holiday $9.3M

7. What To Expect When You’re Expecting (Lionsgate) Week 2 [3,021
Theaters] PG13
Friday $2.2M (-42%), Saturday $2.6M, Sunday $2.2M, Monday
3-Day Weekend $7.1M, 4-Day Holiday $8.8M, Cume $23.8M

8. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) Week 4 [1,233
Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $2.4M, Sunday $2.2M, Monday
3-Day Weekend $6.3M, 4-Day Holiday $8.2M, Cume $18.4M

9. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Week 10 [1,421 Theaters] PG13
Friday $593K, Saturday $875K, Sunday $800K, Monday
3-Day Weekend $2.2M, 4-Day Holiday $2.8M, Cume $395.8M
International Cume $249M, Global Cume $644.2M

10. Think Like A Man (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 6 [786 Theaters] PG13
Friday $395K, Saturday $540K, Sunday $480K, Monday
3-Day Weekend $1.4M, 4-Day Holiday $1.8M, Cume $88.7M

SUNDAY AM, 4TH UPDATE: A lot was riding on this weekend’s worldwide totals for Will Smith (back at cineplexes after a 4-year hiatus) and Sony (reviving a costly Columbia Pictures franchise that was dormant for a decade). But Memorial Weekend newcomer Men In Black 3 is now the 5th major studio release that has underperformed domestically at the start of Summer 2012. Plus, demonstrating more trouble for Hollywood, overall moviegoing of $190M is down a huge -31% from last year’s record. Overseas, MIB3 was off to a better start, and Sony is projecting it to take in an estimated $202M worldwide total during its first few days of release in 106 territories. Of that, IMAX sales contributed approximately $12M to the global cume, which is 20% higher than the previous record for a worldwide Memorial Day release because of aggressive IMAX building overseas. Sony said MIB3 was #1 in 104 countries. In this country, yes, MIB3 finally vanquished three-time #1  Marvel’s The Avengers which was starting its 4th week in domestic release. Even so there’s continuing good news for Disney’s 3D superhero assembly: it crossed $500M on Saturday, reaching the mark in just 23 days which is setting a new speed record (better than Avatarwhich took 32 days). In 3,918 theaters, it’s a solid #2 with about a $36.9M three-day weekend and a $48.5M Memorial Holiday. It is currently the #4 film of all time globally and domestically and is currently the #5 film of all time internationally, passing Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($771M) this weekend. Even if Avengers weren’t sucking the air out of North American box office, trust me when I say the movie moguls are worried what lies ahead for their films in June after a dismal domestic May…

As for MIB3, I think Sony should have made a bigger deal of pairing the 3D scifi laugher with 6 minutes from its upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man throughout the run of the engagement in IMAX 3D. Starting Friday, rival studios were right on target telling me that MIB3 was falling short of what Hollywood expected for North America or overseas. Barry Sonnenfeld’s/Rick Baker’s latest playing in very wide release at 4,248 theaters opened with $17.9M Friday and then went up 8% with $19.4M Saturday. “It’s a little less than we hoped for,” a Sony exec admitted to me tonight. So that’s just $55M for the 3-day weekend and only $70M for the 4-day holiday.

Even overseas, depending on who’s analyzing, MIB3 started out as a mixed bag. Sony claimed “some fantastic new openings around the world, led by Russia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. Russia was a sensational dominant #1 opening grossing $3.5M, accounting for 85% of the box office. This is bigger than the opening day of Avengers and is Sony’s biggest opening day of all time.” Overseas, estimates in top performing markets were: China $19.0M, Russia $18.8M, Korea $8.3M, Japan $7.9M, Mexico $5.9M, Germany $5.7, France $5.6M, Australia $5.3M, Brazil $5.0M, UK $5.0M. But rival studios tell me that “despite great tracking internationally, their midweek openings in Australia, France, Korea, and Germany are mostly behind Battleship or John Carter. Weird.” Those are two comps which no studio wants to hear in the same sentence with its summer blockbuster.

Here’s why the cost of MIB3 soared: The time travel elements of Etan Cohen’s script had to be re-worked by Jeff Nathanson who needed more time to pull off the tricky plot device while Cohen worked on another project. So the film shut down for about six weeks, which is a rarity for a major tentpole, and then Cohen came back to finish the movie. That caused the cost to skyrocket from a range of $225M (which is what Sony claims as the budget) to $300M (which is what rival studios say it really was). Between that and all the gross profit participants – besides Will Smith, this is one of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment productions with his former lieutenants Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald producing through their Parkes+MacDonald Image Nation – every dollar counts. Now the question is how many families come out for Monday’s holiday. MIB3 is helped by good word of mouth with audiences giving it a ‘B+’ CinemaScore (‘A-‘ from under age 18). Exit polling should that 54% of the opening weekend audience was male and 46% was female. Of those moviegoers, 44% was under age 25 and 56% was 25 or older.

The point of threequels is that they sell themselves. So the marketing campaign went on auto-pilo wuth the usual multi-platform media. It kicked off with the launch of the first trailer on Sherlock Holmes 2. The cast participated in International junkets and premieres starting in Seoul and continuing to Tokyo, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, London, Moscow, and New York. There was a MIB time capsule that will be housed at NASA’s Cape Canaveral for the next 43 years. Pitbull did the film’s theme song while legendary make up artist Rick Baker had an exhibit of his aliens at the Museum of the Moving Image in NYC. The main part of the campaign consisted of saturated television covering network season finales, the NBA playoffs, and kids networks. Sony worked with Viacom to create a two-phased, cross-network promotion themed around the “aliens amongst us” across MTV, Comedy, Spike, VH1, CMT, and MTV2 which extended into a strong viral campaign around the blog site

High hopes for writer/producer Oren Peli and his Paranormal Activity-pedigreed horror newcomer Chernobyl Diaries (2,433 theaters) deflated. First it was given a dreaded ‘D+’ CinemaScore from audiences. Then Alcon Entertainment’s genre acquisition took a big 33% drop on Saturday from Friday’s opening. It’s now likely to finish in only 6th place through Monday, less than disappointing holdovers Battleship (3,702 theaters) from Universal and The Dictator (3,014 theaters) from Paramount and even Dark Shadows from Warner Bros, too. Back in February, Alcon purchased Chernobyl Diaries‘ North American and international release rights in Germany, Spain, and Japan for Peli’s reality-based horror thriller. The film was released by Warner Bros via an output deal with Alcon co-founders/co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove who are the pic’s EPs. Produced by Peli and Brian Witten (Dark City, Final Destination, Friday The 13th), it marks the directorial debut of veteran visual effects artist Brad Parker. Chernobyl Diaries is the first fully financed film by Glen Basner’s FilmNation Entertainmen. It was brought into Alcon by Dave Fierson, Alcon’s SVP of Business Affairs. Peli almost overnight has become a cottage industry for low-budget horror thrillers after he wrote and directed the first Paranormal Activity whose trilogy now has grossed a huge $576M for Paramount. It’s interesting to me that Alcon, which began in 1997 with financial backing from FedEx chairman Fred Smith, has now gone from primarily family fair like My Dog Skip, The Blind Side, and Dolphin Tale to a horror flick.

FRIDAY AM: This will be the first weekend in a month that Marvel’s The Avengers has not dominated North American box office as #1. Instead, Sony Pictures’ Men in Black 3 is anticipated to top today at a giant release in 4,248 runs for the start of Memorial Weekend as Will Smith returns to the cineplex after a long hiatus. This is his first major starring role in four years, and what could have been a tired franchise was freshened by a time travel plot and Josh Brolin. The studio just announced the scifi comedy made $1.5M for its first midnight showings in 2,233 locations calling it “Good. Expect a big day today, and kids to drive a huge Saturday-Sunday-Monday.” Hollywood believes the popular laugher can scare up as much as $80M-$90M domestic and north of $200M worldwide for the four-day holiday. Meanwhile Alcon Entertainment’s horror genre acquisition Chernobyl Diaries distributed domestically by Warner Bros posted a larger than expected midnight opening with $525K from 1,325 locations. “This result is at the very high end of all horror comps,” an exec emailed me. “Stay tuned… It could beat tracking for the weekend.” Immediately Hollywood began revising up its $15M estimates for the film whose theater count is 2,433 this weekend.