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Thinking outside the box office: 'God's Not Dead' to get a witness

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Thinking outside the box office: 'God's Not Dead' to get a witness

Two new movies will hit theaters for the April Fools' weekend,but neither will be able to overpower the Dark Knight and the Last Son of Krypton.

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" will kick offthe weekend with more than $530 million, as its wallet quickly fattens.The clash of the two superheroes collected $166 million during its opening, rightin the pocket of forecastsbetween $150 million and $172 million. That kind of reception seems to be boostingexpectations for a Warner Bros. DC franchise, even if the critical response is stillderisive.

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"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"
Source: Warner Bros.

Forecasts put the blockbuster as high as $66 million for itssecond weekend at the box office, about 6x Variety'sestimate for the most popular debut film, "God's Not Dead 2." On the lowend of expectations for the low-budget Christian sequel is DeadlineHollywood, which is projecting a range of $8 million to $12 million. Boxoffice.com,meanwhile, comes in high with a $14.5 million estimate.

Pure Flix Entertainment, the studio behind the film, hopes itwill ride on some of the success of the original "God's Not Dead" title.That 2014 movie opened to $9.2 million at just 780 locations, leading to higherexpectations for the sequel, which hits 2,318 screens during its debut. The productionbudget for the second film was not released, only that it cost more than the $2.5million for the first installment in the franchise. That low budget, coupled withtotal revenue of $119.5 million, led "God's Not Dead" to an 18.6% profitmargin.

A group of similar releases show other recent releases in theChristian genre delivering mixed results. Columbia Pictures' "War Room"posted a profit margin of 49.3% after collecting total revenue of $136.4 million.On the other end of the spectrum, "Do You Believe?" saw a profit lossof 55.5% on just $31.2 million at the top line. The average margin of the groupwas 18.3% on an average opening weekend of $14.5 million.

Rotten Tomatoes had a 14% "rotten" rating for the sequel as of 2 p.m.ET on April 1; the original film received a 15% "rotten"rating. Critics have not been very forgiving on recent Christian movies in general,with "Heavenis for Real" seeing the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of the group witha 46% rating. That 2014 title saw a solid 25.2% profit margin.

Also entering wide release during the weekend is Freestyle Releasing's"Meet the Blacks," a parody of "The Purge." The comedy is expectedto drag well behind the competition with a $3.4 million domestic gross, accordingto BoxOffice.com. Variety gives "Meetthe Blacks" a $4 million estimate, and Deadline generally agrees, putting it"south of $5 million."

Other low-budget parody flicks from the Scary Movie and A HauntedHouse franchises delivered a $25.9 million average domestic opening. "A HauntedHouse 2" was the biggest disappointment among the group, yielding a marginof negative 96.9% on an $8.8 million opening. In general though, the average marginwas a positive 15.6% for similar titles.

RottenTomatoes had yet to rate the film as of 2 p.m. ET on April 1.

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