Box Office Report: 'Battleship' Sinks With Estimated $9.5 Million on Friday

1:55 AM PST 05/19/2012 by Pamela McClintock

"Dictator" is performing on the softer side domestically, but easily pulls ahead of "What to Expect When You're Expecting"; "Avengers" continues to dominate and will win weekend with $50 million or more.

CANNES -- Universal and Hasbro Entertainment's big-budget Battleship barely made it out of port at the Friday box office, with early estimates showing the action pic grossing a disappointing $9.5 million.

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At that pace, the movie may only hit $26 million for the weekend, well below the anticipated $35 million to $40 million that Universal and director Peter Berg were hoping for. Battleship, which earned a solid B CinemaScore, could come in higher if kids and parents start showing up on Saturday.

The continuing strength of Disney and Marvel Studios' Avengers is no doubt making life difficult for new product, but box office observers say Battleship, which cost north of $209 million to produce, excluding marketing costs, faces its own obstacles as well.

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The pic -- based the classic board game not well known by younger generations -- played notably older on Friday, with 66 percent of the audience over the age of 25. Males made up 57 percent of those buying tickets, according to CinemaScore exit polling data.

Battleship's international gross of roughly $220 million provides some cushion, but the tentpole, starring Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker and Liam Neeson, needed a strong domestic performance to end up in the black. An opening of $26 million means it may not clear $75 million over the long haul, resulting in a notable write-down for Universal.

The weekend's other new offerings at the domestic box office are Sacha Baron Cohen's R-rated comedy The Dictator and Lionsgate's ensemble comedy What to Expect When You're Expecting.

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While softer than either Borat and Bruno, Dictator -- which opened Wednesday -- pulled ahead of What to Expect on Friday, grossing an estimated $5.5 million for a three-day gross of $16 million and five-day debut of $23.5 million.

Overseas, Dictator is doing better business, and should earn $30 million by Sunday from 29 markets.

What to Expect, based on the bestselling self-help book, looked to earn $4 million on Friday for a weak $11.5 million weekend.

As with Battleship, What to Expect -- which earned a B- CinemaScore also played older, with 77 percent over the age of 25. Females made up 67 percent of the audience.

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