Battleship: Big, dumb, loud…successful?
It’s crept up on me slowly, but for the last six weeks or so, I’ve thought that Battleship, the movie based on a boardgame, would surprise people. Sure, it looks big and dumb and loud and it reminds me of Transformers in less-than-flattering ways, but it kind of looks fun. Succeeding in summer is often not so much about quality storytelling or acting but about quality fun. And as the media rollout went into top gear this past month, I started thinking that Battleship might not just be fun, but it may well be far more successful than anyone is predicting. Universal owns up to a $209 million budget. Between rumors of reshoots, chaos cost expenditures, and an elaborate marketing plan, I’d say that number is closer to $350 million than not. With those kinds of numbers, you’ve raised the stakes considerably. You have to pull down pretty huge averages to even look at breaking even in theatrical release.
And guess what? It’s already pulling down pretty huge averages where it’s opening in foreign markets before the May 18 US release. In Australia it’s on pace with Iron Man and Thor, and in the UK it’s besting the earnings of those two movies at the same stage of release. It’s Belgium’s biggest opening of 2012 and in France Battleship opened bigger than The Hunger Games. What does this mean? It means the North American box office isn’t going to matter for Battleship. Whatever money it makes here will be gravy, since it’s on pace to earn $300 million in foreign box office.
Battleship is projected to open with $46 million in North America. If all I was seeing were the awful early critics’ reviews, I’d think that number was generous. But I’ve talked to regular people who have seen it, and they were into it. One person said it was “better than Transformers” and they all went off on how crazy amazing the SFX were (especially the aliens). Crowd response from the countries where it’s already been released has been enthusiastic. When it comes to movies like this, it seems like the more critics hate it, the more general audiences embrace it. I’m terrible at predicting box office success, so take this for what it’s worth, but Battleship feels like a surprise to me. I predict the opening weekend will be at least $55 million.
You know why I’m vested in this? And why many of you might be as well? Taylor Kitsch. I want a win for him. After John Carter disappointed, I want Battleship to be the movie that makes him a household name. He’s a nice guy, and not a bad actor—I doubt this movie will do much to enhance my opinion of his talent, but Savages might—and if we can’t agree on Jake G being an action hero, can we please let Taylor Kitsch be that guy for us? I know Battleship looks stupid, but can we be okay with it being fun anyway if it means giving us Taylor Kitsch, Star? I want this for him. I really do.
(Lainey: ME TOO!)
Attached - Taylor Kitsch and Brooklyn Decker at the Sydney premiere of Battleship earlier this week and Alexander Skarsgard at The Avengers premiere on Wednesday.