Gods of Egypt
Courtesy of Lionsgate

Moviegoers are avoiding “Gods of Egypt” like the plague.

Gerard Butler’s $140 million sword-and-sandal tentpole is headed for an epic flop, set to open with about $12 million “Deadpool” will exterminate the competition for the third weekend in a row, with a projected $30 million, early box office results show Friday.

Lionsgate’s “Gods of Egypt,” which will play on 3,117 screens, already represents a major setback for the studio — although it is performing respectably in international markets, with first-place launches in Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, as well as a strong Latin American debut. It’s bowing in 68 foreign markets this weekend.

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“Gods of Egypt” had been pegged two years ago as a franchise starter. Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer asserted at that point that the studio’s exposure was under $10 million, thanks to pre-sales of foreign rights and Australian tax incentives. But the poor opening weekend, which trailed recent forecasts of $15 million, hurts Lionsgate-Summit’s reputation for starting franchises — which had been burnished by the successes of “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games.”

Directed by Alex Proyas (“I, Robot”), “Gods of Egypt” centers on a mortal hero, played by Brenton Thwaites, who allies himself with a god in order to save the world, which has been plunged into chaos by Butler’s god of darkness. Critics have panned the movie, which has a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

By contrast, audiences have continued flocking to Ryan Reynolds’ “Deadpool.” If projections hold, Fox’s R-rated hit will near $290 million domestically by Sunday.

Two other new entries, both with modest price tags of about $20 million, are launching in the U.S. amid moderate expectations. Open Road’s heist thriller “Triple 9,” starring Casey Affleck and Chiwetel Ejiofor, is projected to take in about $6 million at 2,205 locations. Fox’s sports comedy “Eddie the Eagle,” toplined by Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton, will gross around $7 million on 2,038 screens.

“Eddie the Eagle” has decent critical support with a 70% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while “Triple 9” is at 56%.

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