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'Ben-Hur' losing box office chariot race to 'Suicide Squad'

'Ben-Hur' losing box office chariot race to 'Suicide Squad'
Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman in "Ben-Hur." (Philippe Antonello/Paramount Pictures via AP)

The new big-budget reimagining of Lew Wallace's 19th century novel "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" isn't exactly enchanting moviegoers.

The Oscar-winning 1959 film starring Charlton Heston may be regarded as a cinema classic, but the Paramount and MGM "Ben-Hur" update released this weekend pulled in about $4 million in the U.S. and Canada on Friday, according to estimates. It's on target to bring in only $11 million for the weekend.

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It's a dismal opening for a film with a budget of about $100 million, and it adds to a string of tentpole releases set in ancient times that have tanked at the U.S. box office, including "Gods of Egypt," "Exodus: Gods and Kings" and "The Legend of Hercules."

The new "Ben Hur" was directed by Timur Bekmambetov ("Wanted") with Jack Huston in the titular role. Critics pretty much hated it, but the epic earned an A-minus grade from audiences, according to polling firm CinemaScore.

The lackluster opening is making way for Warner Bros.' "Suicide Squad" to enjoy a third week at No. 1.

The dark supervillain flick grossed $6 million Friday and is projecting $20 million in ticket sales through Sunday, pushing its domestic total to more than $261 million.

Sony's raunchy animated comedy "Sausage Party" is headed toward a healthy second weekend at the box office, logging $5 million Friday and a $15-million weekend gross.

The R-rated comedy starring the voices of Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig and Salma Hayek as grocery store items that discover their fate after humans purchase them pulled in a surprising $33.6 million last weekend, well above projections of $20 million.

Todd Phillips' new war dramedy, "War Dogs," starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill and based loosely on a true story, collected $5.5 million on Friday and was on track for an estimated $14-million debut.

Follow me on Twitter:@GerrickKennedy

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