The box office this weekend seems to have deteriorated into films which audiences more or less wouldn’t care much if they accidentally heard a spoiler. If you’re here reading this, I can’t help but personally commend you. And thank you.

Ahem.

Hollywood is for the moneymakers, and independent cinema is for the artists. What we have this weekend is the continuation of sequel-mania, with the straight-forward success of Men In Black III removing fellow comic-book exploitation and receiving mostly indifferent reviews, regardless of its feedback orientation.

Anyone confused by shifts in screenwriting credits needs only remind themselves that Hollywood runs through scripts at the pace Oren Peli pumps out redundant found footage. I refer to Chernobyl Diaries, of course, from first-time director Bradley Parker, stepping up to the visual pedestal from visual effects to total control.

However: why all the footage would be found so suddenly and thoroughly is a matter which hopefully resulted in more ruminating fans of the genre, and irrevocably concludes with a great deal less suspense or mystery. Thus the less-than-lukewarm reviews.

Everything that awful has sunk dramatically, borderline melodramatically considering that Battleship remains in the top five for some strange reason (which if we ever come to understand my erase the universe and recycle into something even more mysterious). In fact, films have been so sub-standard that The Hunger Games, two months later, remains in the top ten of the box office.

But I digress. Although Men in Black III sits atop our box office at the moment, it had both an advantage and a disadvantage. The former considers that the preceding film was awful and lowered standards for this film.

The latter reminds us that this sequel is rather late to the party, and otherwise unnecessary besides redeeming a series we would have liked to turn out better. Using a simple plot to capitalize on characters’ chemistry, the safe and familiar concept of time travel is utilized to format a typical summer blockbuster, and with talented leads, too.

If only Hollywood could use a time machine to release this entry into the series at least half a decade ago, when it mattered.

Box Office Estimates through Sunday, 5-27-12

1. “Men in Black 3” (Sony): Opened with $70 million. $133.2 million overseas.

2. “The Avengers” (Disney): $46.9 million on its fourth weekend. Domestic total: $523.6 million. $28.1 million overseas in 54 foreign markets. International total: $781.9 million.

3. “Battleship” (Universal): $13.8 million on its second weekend, down 57%. Domestic total: $47.3 million. $2.9 million overseas in 49 foreign markets. International total: $232.7 million.

4. “The Dictator” (Paramount): $11.8 million on its second weekend, down 47%. Domestic total: $43.6 million. $11.8 million overseas in 29 foreign markets. International total: $50.3 million.

5. “Dark Shadows” (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow): $9.4 million on its third weekend, down 41%. Domestic total: $64.9 million. $13.1 million overseas in 53 foreign markets. International total: $106.6 million.

6. “Chernobyl Diaries” (Warner Bros.): Opened with $9.3 million.

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