May 2012 got off to a rollicking start when The Avengers opened to a record-breaking $207.4 million, though business quickly stalled from there. In fact, The Avengers wound up accounting for 52 percent of domestic earnings in May, which is easily a new record for highest monthly share ahead of 2002's Spider-Man (37.4 percent). Because the rest of the releases were middling at best, the $1.024 billion overall tally ranks second all-time in May behind last year's $1.038 billion.
The Avengers was really the only major success story in May. The blockbuster not only set an opening weekend record, but also had the best second weekend ($103.05 million) and second-highest third ($55.6 million) and fourth ($36.7 million) weekends as well. Through four weeks in theaters, the movie has amassed an incredible $532.5 million at the domestic box office, which is by-far the highest four-week tally ever ahead of The Dark Knight's $454.7 million. In fact, on the first day of June The Avengers is set to pass The Dark Knight's $533.3 million total to become the third-highest-grossing movie ever, and it should finish its run around $600 million.
The best of the rest was MIB 3, which earned $83 million through just seven days in theaters. That's a fine figure, but it's still off from Men in Black II ($99 million) and the first Men in Black ($98.4 million) at the same point (and that's with a decade of ticket price inflation and the addition of 3D).
While Dark Shadows was unimpressive, the award for biggest disaster easily goes to Battleship. The board game adaptation earned just $50.3 million through its first two weeks, which is less than star Taylor Kitsch's other 2012 bomb, John Carter, made through the same point ($57.3 million). Battleship could wind up around $70 million, and it's buoyed a bit by decent international grosses, but it's still a huge debacle given its $209 million budget and usually crowd-pleasing alien invasion story.
The Dictator rounded out the Top Five with $46.1 million. That's way behind Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat and a bit off from Bruno, though it could get close to Bruno's $60.05 million total by the end of its run.
The other two major releases from May weren't very successful, either. What to Expect When You're Expecting has only grossed $26.3 million, which pales in comparison to most pregnancy comedies. Oren Peli-produced horror flick Chernobyl Diaries scared up a meager $11.4 million through its first week, which is lower than practically all Summer horror movies.
Aside from The Avengers, the month's other bright spot came from the specialty market. Following three solid weeks in limited release, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel expanded nationwide over Memorial Day and has so far earned $20.9 million. Assuming it holds up well at its current locations, it should finish around $40 million.
Moonrise Kingdom was the other specialty stand-out: Wes Anderson's latest scored the best per-theater average ever for a live action movie ($130,749) when it opened at four theaters over Memorial Day weekend. Considering Anderson's general appeal and Focus Features' expertise with handling such movies, Moonrise should be in for a very healthy box office run.
Year-to-date box office is at $4.34 billion, which is up over 10 percent from the same period last year. It's only running a bit ahead of 2010, though that was a very front-loaded year, and 2012 remains well-positioned to set a new yearly box office record.