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Early B.O.: ‘Battleship’ runs aground in U.S.

Universal tentpole on track for dismal $31 million weekend

Universal’s “Battleship” is getting torpedoed at the domestic box office, with early Friday estimates putting the big-budget tentpole at $11.5 million for the day, $31 million for the weekend.

After raking in a modest $220 million overseas, U was hoping the film — which U insists cost $209 million, though its budget has been rumored much higher — would make a bigger splash Stateside.

Instead, the film has become the latest victim of Disney’s B.O. titan, “The Avengers,” which is on track to earn $55 million-$60 million, notching a third-consecutive weekend victory for Marvel’s league of superheroes.

“It’s going to be a long shot,” one exec says of “Battleship’s” chances of breaching $100 million domestically.

Directed by Peter Berg and starring Taylor Kietsch, Rihanna and Alexander Skaarsgard, “Battleship” won’t have much breathing room next weekend, when another formidable opponent, Sony’s “Men in Black 3,” bows May 25.

“The Avengers” is also putting a dent in this weekend’s other releases: Par’s “Dictator” and Lionsgate’s “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Dictator,” which opened Wednesday, is on track to earn $14 million for the weekend, putting the comedy in a dead-heat with Warners’ holdover “Dark Shadows” for third place.

“What to Expect,” meanwhile, is trailing close behind with an estimated $13 million for the frame.

“Matinees are soft across the board,” one analyst says of the lackluster Friday numbers. “But I think you’re seeing ‘The Avengers’ scare off the rest of the sales, much like ‘Hunger Games’ did a few months ago.”

On Thursday, “The Avengers” became the sixth-highest grossing film of all-time and Disney’s best performer ever, having grossed $1.07 billion (as of Thursday) and over $400 million domestically.

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