May 20 "Battleship," Universal Picture's big
budget science fiction film, is likely to dent the studio's
profits after it opened with lower than forecast ticket sales,
according to analysts.
The film, which Comcast unit Universal has said
cost $209 million to produce, generated $23.4 million in ticket
sales at theaters in the U.S. and Canada during its opening
weekend, according to figures compiled by Hollywood.com.
It had been projected by tracking services used by Hollywood
studios to have ticket sales of between $35 million and $40
The movie, which stars Liam Neeson and the singer Rihanna,
finished the weekend second to Walt Disney's superhero
blockbuster "The Avengers," which led the box office for the
third weekend with $55.1 million in ticket sales.
"It is not quite the epic disaster of 'John Carter,' but
this will put a dent in Comcast's quarter," said Matthew
Harrigan of Wunderlich Securities, who follows Comcast. He did
not quantify how much he expected the film to lose.
"John Carter," which sold $30.2 million during its opening
weekend in March, saddled Disney with a $200 million loss, the
company said. That film cost more than $250 million to produce.
Based on the "John Carter" performance, Universal will lose
$100 million to $200 million, estimates Michael Morris of
Davenport & Co., who does not follow Comcast, but follows
Disney, News Corp. and Time Warner, which also
have studio units.
A Universal spokeswoman would not comment. Comcast officials
were not immediately available for comment.
The studio is estimated to have spent more than $100 million
to market the film, standard for large budget films.
"Battleship" has sold more than $220 million in overseas
tickets, Universal has said. It is forecast to reach $250
million in foreign sales.
Movie studios generally receive about half of the revenues
from ticket sales in North America and less in foreign markets.
The film needed to generate more than $50 million in weekend
ticket sales to break even, said analyst Tony Wible, a managing
director at Janney Montgomery Scott who compiles a data base on
film performances. He does not follow Comcast.
Last week, Disney's superhero franchise-builder surprised
experts by cutting into the expected weekend ticket sales of
"Dark Shadows," starring Johnny Depp, which took in just $29.7
million, according to Box Office Mojo.
During the coming weekend, "Battleship," loosely based on
the Hasbro board game, will face the third installment
of Will Smith's futuristic comedy "Men in Black." The last one
in the series, in 2002, generated $190.4 million in domestic