Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The Avengers will dominate this weekend

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LOS ANGELES -- The summer movie season opens with a blast Friday as Disney's much-anticipated, US$220 million The Avengers storms onto more than 4,000 domestic screens with expectations that it could earn between $150 million and $170 million in its first weekend. The record is held by last year's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 at $169.2 million.

Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers unleashes Marvel Studio's pantheon of superheros to save the world in 3-D and IMAX. The PG-13 film, which has already made more than $260 million overseas, stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo.

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The remainder of the top five films will be left to skirmish over mere scraps, led by Sony's ensemble hit Think Like a Man at just under $10 million in its third weekend out. As the PG-13-rated romp nears $75 million in North America, the $12 million production budget was obviously money well spent on this adaptation of Steve Harvey's bestselling dating book.

Sony's second weekend of The Pirates! Band of Misfits will offer a family-friendly, PG-rated alternative this weekend and should wind up with a gross slightly north of $6 million.

Lionsgate's hugely successful The Hunger Games will add another $6 million plus to its North American total as it crosses the $380 million mark by the end of the weekend and pushes its worldwide total well beyond the $600-million mark.

Universal's R-rated comedy The Five Year Engagement and Warner Bros.' romantic drama The Lucky One will fight to grab a spot in the top five with grosses of around $5 million-plus each.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 4, 2012 D2

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