Box Office Analysis: 'Battleship' Hit by Lack of Youth Interest

Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna
Universal Pictures

Lt. Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) and Petty Officer Raikes (Rihanna) must work together to defeat the alien species known as "The Regents."

Universal's big-budget tentpole fared poorly in its North American launch, earning only $25.3 million.

CANNES -- Last year, moviegoers under the age of 25 turned out in force for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, propelling the film to post a six-day debut of $180.7 million when opening over the July 4 holiday, including a three-day weekend total of $97.9 million.

This past week, fellow Hasbro Entertainment property Battleship -- complete with Transformers-like aliens -- debuted to a dismal $25.3 million at the domestic box office, sending shockwaves throughout the film industry.

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With The Avengers still storming the marketplace, observers knew that Universal and Hasbro's Battleship would come in on the more modest side ($35 million to $40 million), but no one expected it to come in at such a low level after making $226 million overseas.

The big difference between Battleship and Dark of the Moon: 66 percent of Battleship's audience was over the age of 25, and 50 percent was over 30.

Some speculate that younger moviegoers have no connection to the classic board game that Battleship is based on. Another problem could be the perception that it is some sort of Transformers spinoff.

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Universal's marketing campaign focused heavily on males, who made up 57 percent of the audience.

Transformers likewise played best to males at first but quickly became an all-audience title, including playing well to families. Many doubt that Battleship will make the same leap.

Battleship appeared to have lost younger males to Sacha Baron Cohen's R-rated comedy The Dictator, which posted a five-day debut of $25.4 million. Of Dictator's audience, 56 percent were under the age of 25, and 65 percent  were male.

Universal is facing a notable loss because of Battleship, even with the strong foreign gross. It might only make $70 million to $80 million domestically after costing at least $209 million to produce, excluding a pricey marketing campaign.

Battleship stars Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker and Liam Neeson. Peter Berg directed.