Men in Black 3 took the retro thing all the way to the box office.
The Will Smith sequel won the holiday weekend with an estimated $55 million Friday-Sunday take that was big enough to defeat The Avengers, but was a throwback to the franchise's grosses from a decade or more ago.
"When compared to its prededessors, I can understand people saying it should've done more," Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said Sunday.
The original Men in Black, released in 1997, debuted to $51 million; the 2002 sequel, Men in Black 2, bowed with $52 million. In today's ticket prices, the two movies' each grossed the equivalent of $70-$80 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com stats.
Versus the earlier films, MiB3, which reteamed Smith with Tommy Lee Jones, and added in Josh Brolin as the 1960s version of Jones' agent, not had only the advantage of 2012 box-office economics and formats, including IMAX 3-D, but also a promotion that saw the first six minutes of The Amazing Spider-Man screened in some of its theaters.
If the domestic opening didn't wow, then opening-weekend audiences at least were enthusiastic: The film received a B-plus, per polling data, and an A-minus from moviegoers who were in elementary school, if that, when MiB2 was released.
The film will stand at $70 million overall domestically by the close of the four-day, Memorial Day weekend, estimates showed.
Internationally, MiB3 put up showy numbers that boosted its opening weekend take to more than $200 million worldwide—a figure that just about equals its reputedly $215 million budget.
"In total," Dergarabedian said, "it's a solid start. "
For Hollywood, however, the weekend was more of the recent same: disappointing.
According to Exhibitor Relations stats, the Friday-Sunday domestic box office was off by about one-third compared to Memorial Day weekend 2011.
One suspected culprit in the dowturn, the competition-devouring The Avengers, finished out of the No. 1 spot for the first time since its May 4 release.
The Avengers' loss was eased by yet another record: It broke the $500 million barrier domestically on Saturday, its 23rd day in theaters, and become the fastest film to ever hit that mark.
Its studio estimated the superhero movie will gross about $47 million from Friday-Monday, putting its domestic total at $523.6 million, the fourth-highest of all-time.
Worldwide, the film is at $1.31 billion, likewise the fourth-highest gross of all-time.
Elsewhere, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom very nearly broke into the Top 10 despite opening at only four theaters. (It finished 14th.) Its per-screen average of $130,752 for the three-day weekend is the biggest-ever for a live-action, non-animated movie, its studio reported.
Another art-house hit, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, broke wide, and saw ticket sales zoom by nearly 100 percent.
Zac Efron's The Lucky One dropped out of the Top 10 after a tidy five-week run and a projected $58.3 million domestic take through Sunday.
Here's a complete look at the weekend's top movies, per Friday-Sunday domestic numbers as reported by the studios and BoxOfficeMojo.com. Four-day estimates for the Memorial Day holiday weekend are also included:
(Originally published May 27, 2012 at 9:54 a.m. PT)