Box Office Preview: 'Avengers' Expected to Sink 'Battleship'


Peter Berg's alien-invasion pic did score an especially strong start in Russia, where it grossed $10.7 million during the April 20 to 22 weekend to grab a 76 percent market share.

The Universal tentpole is expected to debut in the modest $35 million to $40 million range as "The Avengers" continues to dominate in its fourth weekend with a projected gross of as much as $60 million.

CANNES -- Universal and Hasbro Entertainment's Battleship opens this weekend at the domestic box office but the big-budget gamble faces an uphill battle in transforming into a successful summer tentpole.

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With Disney and Marvel Studios' The Avengers still dominating the marketplace, box office observers believe that film could earn as much as $60 million in its third weekend, while Battleship may only gross $35 million to $40 million after costing north of $209 million to produce, excluding a pricey marketing campaign.

The record-shattering Avengers will cross the $400 million mark on Friday after only 14 days of play in North America, breaking the 18-day record set by The Dark Knight. Globally, the film had earned $1.54 billion as of Thursday, the eighth best showing of all time (many believe the pic will end up at No. 3 with a worldwide gross of $1.35 to $1.4 billion).

Battleship, based on the classic board game, opened weeks ago at the international box office, where it has earned roughly $220 million, a solid but so-far unspectacular number for a major event pic. The performance has put pressure on the film's domestic run.

Directed by Peter Berg, Battleship headlines Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker and Alexander Skarsgard and is a sister project to Hasbro's Transformers franchise at Paramount.

There are two other new nationwide releases this weekend at the domestic box office: Lionsgate's ensemble comedy What to Expect When You're Expecting, based on the bestselling self-help book, and Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator, which got an early start in opening Wednesday.

What to Expect is predicted to open in the $17 million to $20 million range, while The Dictator should post a five-day opening gross in the $20 million to $23 million range, putting it behind the debuts of Baron Cohen's Borat ($26 million) and Bruno ($30 million).

The Dictator grossed a so-so $4.2 million on Wednesday domestically, including $650,000 in Tuesday evening and midnight shows, but is off to a notably stronger start overseas, where it grossed roughly the same amount ($4.2 million) from only nine markets on Wednesday, including $1.6 million in the U.K.