LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Critics slammed Miley Cyrus in her first movie made outside her "Hannah Montana" character as it opened in U.S. theaters on Wednesday, but "The Last Song" was still expected to perform well at box offices.
The weepy romantic drama, written by best-selling author Nicholas Sparks, was deemed melodramatic and formulaic and claimed only a seven percent approval rating on reviews aggregator www.rottentomatoes.com.
Cyrus, 17, who has said she wants to make a career in movies after five years playing Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana", was widely savaged for her performance as a surly teen sent to spend the summer with her estranged father.
Lou Lumenick of the New York Post called it "the most dubious 'dramatic' debut of any singer since Britney Spears" and took Cyrus to task for "displaying approximately one and a half expressions."
Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips said Cyrus "plays an angry, heartbroken girl in a way that, sad to say, shows off her 'Hannah Montana'-drilled tricks and tics and air of entitlement more than her dramatic range."
The Philadelphia Inquirer was kinder, with critic Carrie Rickey remarking that the movie was a "relatively-restrained tear-jerker."
"The Last Song" marks Cyrus's transition from 'tween Disney TV fare to more adult drama. Hollywood box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said the poor reviews were unlikely to dissuade her legions of young fans.
"Reviews generally don't matter with this type of film. Because of Miley Cyrus's audience, they will turn out to see her no matter what," Dergarabedian said.
Two previous Cyrus movies -- "Hannah Montana The Movie" in 2009 and 2008 concert film "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour" -- both opened No.1 at North American box offices with first weekend ticket sales of more than $31 million each.
"The Last Song", released by Disney's Buena Vista, faces stiff competition this weekend against new 3-D fantasy adventure "Clash of the Titans" from Warner Bros, while DreamWorks Animation's "How To Train Your Dragon" is expected to play well with families for a second weekend after its $43.7 million opening.
Dergarabedian said however that all three were aimed at different audiences, and he expected "The Last Song" to do solid business given the track records of Cyrus and Sparks.
"Dear John", the most recent movie based on a Sparks novel, took $30.4 million on its opening weekend in early February.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte