Despite competition from Sony’s animated “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” in this weekend’s continued box-office battle of the PGs, DreamWorks Animation’s “The Boss Baby” (20th Century Fox) again beat out live-action “Beauty and the Beast” (Disney). During the week “Beauty” actually outgrossed “Baby” by about $1 million, which means it’s playing beyond the kiddie crowd.
Though hardly stellar, Warners’ “Going in Style” remake with senior Oscar-winners Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin and Michael Caine exceeded low expectations and could sustain a smaller than usual second weekend drop.
The third opener, Christian title “The Case for Christ” (Pure Flix), while based on a pre-sold bestseller and marketed in churches ahead of Holy Week, earned less than $4 million. Religious audiences, sparked by group sales, often come out on Friday night, but the 15 per cent Saturday drop suggests poor word of mouth. But it could get a boost over the Easter holiday weekend.
The Top Ten
1. The Boss Baby (20th Century Fox) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$26,300,000 (-48%) in 3,829 theaters (+56); PTA (per theater average): $6,869; Cumulative: $89,373,000
2. Beauty and the Beast (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #2
$25,022,000 (-45%) in 3,969 theaters (-241); PTA: $6,304; Cumulative: $432,613,000
3. Smurfs: The Lost Village (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 40; Est. budget: $60 million
$14,015,000 in 3,610 theaters; PTA: $3,882; Cumulative: $14,015,000
4. Going in Style (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 50; Est. budget: $25 million
$12,500,000 in 3,061 theaters; PTA: $4,084; Cumulative: $12,500,000
5. Ghost in the Shell (Paramount) Week 2; Last weekend #3
$7,350,000 (-61%) in 3,440 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,137; Cumulative: $31,573,000
6. Power Rangers (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend #4
$6,215,000 (-56%) in 2,978 theaters (-715); PTA: $2,087; Cumulative: $75,111,000
7. Kong: Skull Island (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #5
$5,825,000 (-32%) in 2,753 theaters (-388); PTA: $2,116; Cumulative: $156,555,000
8. Logan (20th Century Fox) Week 6; Last weekend #6
$4,050,000 (-34%) in 1,949 theaters (-374); PTA: $2,078; Cumulative: $218,057,000
9. Get Out (Universal) Week 7; Last weekend #7
$4,020,000 (-29%) in 1,574 theaters (-270); PTA: $2,554; Cumulative: $162,853,000
10. The Case for Christ (Pure Flix) NEW
$3,900,00 in 1,174 theaters; PTA: $3,322; Cumulative: $3,900,000
Stewart Cook -Variety/REX/Shutterstock
What happened to originality?
Among the Top Ten, seven are remakes or franchises. The studios continue to rely, particularly in prime summer months, on the tried and true.
But not so much in spring, when the norm is closer to three or four, rarely even five. This year, only “The Boss Baby,” “The Case for Christ” and “Get Out” stand as entries with no direct connection to a prior film.
Clearly, among the originals, “The Boss Baby” and “The Case for Christ” hew closely to established formulas. But look at outside-the-box entry “Get Out.” The surprise smash of the year is the highest-grossing original debut at $163 million domestic and counting.
As always, the main reason for this lack of conceptual creativity comes from what drives movie production these days — one-size-fits-all films geared to the global market. That leads to higher budgets and boosts overall box office, including domestic, by ensuring that even lame releases like “Ghost in the Shell” and “Power Rangers” end up with higher than the historically average totals for late winter and spring releases.
The next four weeks open and close with franchises “The Fate and the Furious” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” with the two weekends between hosting eight wide-release originals. That’s unusual. Among the ten titles, don’t be surprised if 80 per cent of the domestic and 90 per cent of the worldwide totals come from the first two. Which is why the core of the business remains the same.
Why the top two rule
Despite some other decent holds and three new releases, nearly half of the Top Ten came from “The Boss Baby” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Even though second weekends, even for better-holding cartoon features, tend to take bigger drops, and “Boss” did fall a bit more (marginally) than “Beauty,” it still held well enough to eke out a win.
Though not well-reviewed and lacking the pre-sold elements many animated hits have, “Boss” in its second week caught a topical wave that started from Alec Baldwin’s recent Donald Trump rebound that makes it the right comedy for the moment. It’s not just a home-grown result. It’s already up to $200 million worldwide (45 per cent of domestic) and looks to stick around for a while with adults coming on their own as solid additional support.
“Beauty” will make it to $1 billion worldwide while still under a month old during the week. Its failure to get back into first place means nothing. It should end up substantially above $500 million domestic, with a strong chance to best “The Fate of the Furious,” though it will be closer worldwide.
“Smurfs” is even worse than it looks
Falling below Sony’s second series entry’s opening of $17 million (the first opened to $35 million) is disappointing. But that midsummer release opened on a Wednesday and grossed $27 million for five days, with a good portion of the initial $10 million taken away from the weekend.
This decades-old franchise, with TV and film versions covering much of that period, . skews young, perhaps too much to pique renewed interest. But what hurt it most is that while youngsters push for their choices, their parents call the shots. Both “Beauty” and “Boss” have much greater appeal to adults. Sony will have to hope for a boost from spring vacation and the upcoming Easter weekend.
And while a shift to female characters gave the movie some new hooks to play with, it didn’t effectively widen the appeal.
“Going in Style” is shaky but could rebound
The good news: Zach Braff’s $25-million remake of Martin Brest’s 1979 Christmas hit exceeded expectations by coming in higher than $10 million.
The bad news: Many other similar light caper comedies have opened much better, from “Last Vegas,” which also had a 38 per cent better day two, to both “Now You See Me” movies. Those films had both flashier elements and more female appeal. Warners may have relied too much on the draw of the stellar cast of Arkin/Freeman/Caine.
The film has fair but not great overseas prospects. With no new older-audience film next week it will get a chance to stabilize.
The surge continues
Another weekend with a Top Ten increase — a healthy 20 per cent better than the same weekend last year — means a roughly five per cent uptick over year to date 2016. That’s due to a slight improvement over the two best-grossers last year but mainly from several long-legged holdovers, even if the wealth isn’t shared evenly.
Still to come, as Easter weekend arrives two weeks later than last year, is the “The Fate of the Furious” (eighth in the franchise) which is expected to score $100 million or better (two years ago the seventh entry, with the extra draw of Paul Walker’s final performance, opened to $147 million).
Last year, despite no holiday, “The Jungle Book” debuted to $103 million, so any overall improvement isn’t guaranteed. But recent successes from a wide range of audiences have given real momentum to what initially seemed to be a disappointing year.
Displaying signs of continued weakness are “Ghost in the Shell” in its second week with a 60 percent drop and “Power Rangers” with close to that in its fourth. Even though “Power” still has territories to open overseas, and will edge over $90 million domestic, this was supposed to launch a multi-entry franchise for Lionsgate and trademark holder Saban.
“Get Out” again stunned by only declining 29 per cent. This could end up at $180 million, about 40 times its initial cost. But “Logan” and way more expensive “Kong: Skull Island” are both much bigger worldwide.