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'Batman v Superman' expected to dominate at box office again

Warner Bros. Entertainment's DC Comics film strategy faces another important test as "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" enters its second weekend at the box office.

The Zack Snyder-directed action movie, starring Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill, is expected to again dominate the competition at cinemas after a strong $166-million opening.

Hollywood is waiting to see how far the movie's tickets sales will drop. Analysts expect the epic superhero battle will generate $60 million to $65 million in box-office revenue from the U.S. and Canada this Friday through Sunday. That would represent a decline of roughly 60% or more from its debut.

Major franchise films tend to post steep drops in their second weekends, partly because most hard-core fans flock to theaters when movies first debut.

Last year's hit "Furious 7" and 2012's "The Dark Knight Rises" both dropped about 60% week-to-week. "Batman v Superman" could be weighed down by a less-than-stellar audience response, indicated by its average "B" grade from exit polling firm CinemaScore.

Warner Bros. is counting on continued robust overseas sales. The movie has grossed a global total of $435 million so far, with $181 million of that coming from the U.S. and Canada market. "Batman v Superman" cost $250 million to make and is intended to set the stage for a series of future movies based on DC Comics characters to compete with Disney's Marvel Studios. Upcoming DC films include "Suicide Squad," "Wonder Woman," "Justice League" and "Aquaman."

Nothing else at the box office is expected to give the caped crusaders much of a fight.

"God's Not Dead 2," the sequel to the 2014 indie Christian hit from Pure Flix Entertainment, is estimated to gross $8 million to $12 million in domestic ticket sales, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys. That would be a solid result for the low-budget picture and provide further evidence of the market for faith-based movies.

The original "God's Not Dead" opened with $9 million and ended up with $60.7 million in sales — a profitable result for a picture that cost just $2 million to make.

The horror spoof "Meet the Blacks" is getting a mid-level release this weekend targeting African American moviegoers. The low-budget parody of "The Purge," starring Mike Epps and directed by Deon Taylor, is expected to take in $5 million or less from its debut in about 1,000 theaters.

In limited release, the well-reviewed Warner Bros. science fiction tale "Midnight Special" will try to expand its audience after earning $374,000 from five theaters. Paramount Pictures is releasing the Richard Linklater film "Everybody Wants Some!!," a follow-up to his 1993 classic "Dazed and Confused," while Sony Pictures Classics is launching Don Cheadle's Miles Davis biopic "Miles Ahead."

ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

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