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'Battleship' movie faces choppy seas

Board game-based movie hauls in $170 million overseas, but will meet tough competition in U.S.
By RYAN NAKASHIMA Published: May 5, 2012

— “Battleship,” the first in a string of movies based on Hasbro board games, has survived an armada of tomato-throwing critics and chugged to $170 million in ticket sales overseas.

Yet it faces choppy seas as it steams toward its U.S. debut on May 18. What might sink “Battleship” is competition from other hotly expected blockbusters, including the superhero adventure “The Avengers,” which opens Friday, and Sony's long-awaited “Men in Black III,” which rolls out May 23.

“Battleship” is the first board game movie since “Clue” tanked in 1985. It's a barometer for the appetite of audiences for a handful of other Hasbro board game movies, including Universal's own “Ouija,” due out next year, as well as “Risk” and “Candy Land,” which are in the works at Sony Corp.'s movie studio.

Universal Pictures took the unusual step of releasing “Battleship” in international markets five weeks before its U.S. debut. Part of that was to avoid competing with “The Avengers,” the Disney/Marvel movie that brings together “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk” and other superheroes from previous films. It also wanted to give a wide berth to European Cup soccer starting June 8.

The overseas haul for “Battleship” goes part way to justifying its reported $209 million price tag. But after subtracting splits with theater owners and marketing costs, it is estimated to need about half a billion dollars at box offices to turn a profit.

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