By Todd Cunningham
"The Avengers" powered to another $55.1 million to claim its third consecutive box office crown, leaving Universal's pricey sea saga "Battleship" in its wake with soggy $25.3 million.
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Marvel's star-studded superhero mashup passed "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" to become Disney's highest grossing film of all time. It added $56 million from overseas and now has a worldwide gross of $1.18 billion, fourth-highest ever.
Universal had hoped for more from "Battleship," which had built momentum coming into its U.S. bow by steaming to $220 million overseas in five weeks. That will help offset its $209 million production budget, but the disappointing domestic bow likely ends any talk of a sequel.
"It's disappointing," Nikki Rocco, distribution president for Universal Pictures, told TheWrap Sunday, "but you have to look at the picture globally, and from that standpoint, we're OK."
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The film added $6.5 million overseas this weekend, to raise its international total to $226.8 million.
"Battleship," which averaged $6,870 per theater from its 3,690 locations, skewed older, with 55 percent of the audience over 30 years of age. It received a B CinemaScore from moviegoers, 57 percent of whom were male.
The underwhelming bow of "Battleship" gives Taylor Kitsch the dubious distinction of starring in two of the summer's major domestic misfires, having also starred in Disney's disastrous "John Carter."
Peter Berg ("Hancock") produced with Scott Stuber and directed the action epic based on the classic Hasbro board game -- with an extra-terrestrial twist -- in which a naval fleet battles an invading alien armada. Besides Kitsch, Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgard and Brooklyn Decker star.
"Battleship" is the first movie based on a board game since the forgettable "Clue" in 1985, but a handful are on the way. Universal has scaled back the budget on "Ouija" but still plans a 2013 release. "Risk" and "Candyland" projects are in development at Sony.
Paramount's Sacha Baron Cohen spoof "The Dictator" pulled in $17.4 million over the weekend from 3,008 locations for third. The movie, which opened Wednesday, has made $24.4 million domestically.
The foreign numbers suggest the film may makes its best money overseas. It took in $30.3 million from 29 markets, including $7.3 million from the U.K.
At No. 4 was Warner Bros.' "Dark Shadows," took in $12.7 million from 3,755 locations in its second week, raising the overall domestic gross for the Johnny Depp-Tim Burton collaboration to $50.9 million.
The weekend's other wide opener was Lionsgate's "What to Expect When You're Expecting." The ensemble romantic comedy toplined by Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz delivered a not-so-bouncing $10.5 million from 3,021 locales.
A surprising No. 6 was Fox Searchlight's "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," which grossed $3.25 million from just 354 locales. The tale of Brit retirees in India has now rung up an $8.2 million domestic cume in 17 days.
"Think Like A Man," the Sony film that "The Avengers" dethroned three weeks ago, took in an estimated $2.7 million over the weekend to raise its U.S. gross to $85.8 million.
"The Avengers" will be tested next week, when Sony rolls out "Men in Black 3."
1. "Marvel's The Avengers," $55.1 million
2. "Battleship," $25.3 million
3. "The Dictator," $17.4 million
4. "Dark Shadows,' $12.7 million
5. "What to Expect When You're Expecting," $10.5 million
6. "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," $3.2 million
7. "The Hunger Games," $3 million
8. "Think Like a Man," $2.7 million
9. "The Lucky One," $1.7 million
10. "Pirates! Band of Misfits," $1.5 million
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