Box office preview: Will 'Battleship' sink 'The Avengers'?

BATTLESHIP

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Three new wide releases will attempt to dethrone the almighty Avengers this weekend: the board-game-meets-alien-invasion action flick Battleship, the ensemble pregnancy comedy What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and the latest outrageous comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen, The Dictator.

Nice try, guys. The Avengers should finish No. 1 for the third weekend in a row, and will break a couple more box-office records in the process. Here are my predictions:

1. The Avengers: $58 million

The box-office behemoth dropped just 50 percent last weekend for $103.1 million — by far the biggest second weekend ever. Avatar holds the record for the best third weekend with $68.5 million, and that figure is likely out of reach for The Avengers. But even if the Marvel superhero picture drops 44 percent this weekend, which is what I’m predicting, it’ll still earn some new accolades. By the end of tonight, the movie should pass $400 million — a feat that took a record-breaking 14 days. (The Dark Knight reached $400 million in 18 days.) And The Avengers should reach $450 million on Sunday, its 17th day of release. That would also be a new milestone, again beating The Dark Knight, which earned $450 million in 27 days.

2. Battleship: $37 million

Universal’s $209 million board-game adaptation reaches American shores having already collected more than $220 million overseas, where it was unveiled as early as April 11. Releasing the movie abroad first was a wise move on the studio’s part, as Battleship now faces a potentially tough domestic debut with some solid foreign grosses already under its belt.

The PG-13 movie will have to contend with The Avengers, which is tallying record-breaking numbers and showing no signs of slowing down. Some people may have trouble getting past the fact that Battleship is based on a board game and yet has somehow incorporated extraterrestrials into its naval plot, and the movie’s reviews have been lackluster. Also, Battleship will have no 3-D surcharges to potentially inflate its figures. As a result, I’m thinking it’ll debut closer to last year’s Cowboys & Aliens ($36.4 million), Battle: Los Angeles ($35.6 million), and Super 8 ($35.5 million) than a huge summer blockbuster like the first Transformers ($70.5 million).

3. What to Expect When You’re Expecting: $19 million

Loosely based on the bestselling pregnancy book of the same name, this PG-13 comedy stars approximately one-ninth of Hollywood: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker (also in Battleship), Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, and Rodrigo Santoro. Reviews have been blah, but the $40 million movie should work as attractive counter-programming to all that Hulk smashing and battleship sinking currently in theaters. And the last movie to be based on a self-help book, Think Like a Man, debuted to a surprising $33.6 million. What to Expect won’t find quite that level of success, but an opening around $20 million seems very reasonable.

4. The Dictator: $15 million

The $65 million R-rated comedy, starring Sacha Baron Cohen as the foolish tyrant of a fictitious North African country, opened Wednesday to a decent $4.2 million. The English comedian became a mainstream star after 2006’s Borat, which collected a “very nice” $128.5 million during its domestic run. However, the actor’s follow-up, 2009’s Bruno, opened to a promising $30.6 million and then rapidly fizzled, finishing with a total of only $60.1 million. Like Bruno, The Dictator has received a troubling “C” rating from CinemaScore audiences, and its so-so reviews won’t help matters. Expect a debut in the teens, with a five-day tally of around $24 million.

5. Dark Shadows: $14 million

The Tim Burton feature, starring Johnny Depp as an 18th-century vampire who’s awoken in 1972, started out with a slightly underwhelming $29.7 million last weekend. CinemaScore participants gave the PG-13 movie a “B-” rating, so word-of-mouth might be a bit lifeless. And What to Expect When You’re Expecting will steal away some of Dark Shadows‘ female-skewing audience. Count on a decline that’s slightly higher than 50 percent.

Read more:
Movie review: ‘Battleship’
‘Battleship’ director Peter Berg: Rihanna’s Chris Brown interview helped get her the role
Box office report: ‘Avengers’ smashes 2nd weekend record with $103.2M, passes $1 billion worldwide

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