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    Will Battleship Be Another Box-Office Bust for John Carter's Taylor Kitsch?

    The budget's great. The reviews ain't. The star's Taylor Kitsch.

    And, no, the movie's not John Carter.

    It's Battleship.

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    The $200 million, board-game-based action epic, costarring Rihanna, Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgård, opens May 18.

    The debut will come two short months after John Carter was declared a red-ink machine, and long after media types began branding Battleship a "gamble" (Hollywood Reporter), a "fiasco" (yours truly) and "the next big budget Hollywood disaster" (Forbes).

    That last label was applied to Battleship after the first batch of reviews resulted in a messy 45 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    But as bad as the buzz may seem, there's one big, new sign that Battleship—and Kitsch—are not bound for a repeat of John Carter: Over the weekend, the new film enjoyed a $58 million launch at the international box office. In 20 of its 26 markets, the film opened at No. 1, its studio reported.

    John Carter, which itself played better overseas than over here, bowed to a bigger $69 million internationally, but needed twice as many locations to pull off the number.

    Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock called Battleship's overseas debut "definitely encouraging"—and maybe even a game-changer.

    "Battleship has been tracking very soft, but this will help signal its arrival," Bock said in an email Sunday.

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    The prognosticator was calling for a $450 million worldwide gross, including a domestic take of about $150 million. John Carter, which dropped out of the top 10 this past weekend, has managed only $69 million here, and about $200 million overseas.

    Also, for what it's worth, Battleship's earliest notices from the marquee critics have been good, not to mention fun to read.

    After panning the film for being "overlong and underwritten," Variety praised Battleship's "boyish, eager-to-please razzle-dazzle," while London's Observer called the movie "long, loud, ludicrous," but ultimately "mindlessly enjoyable."

    Kitsch presumably will take "mindlessly enjoyable" any day over "monster flop."

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