‘Boss’ usurps ‘Beast’ as No. 1 movie with $49M de­but

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - BY JAKE COYLE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

NEW YORK | The taskmas­ter tod­dler of “The Boss Baby” de­throned Dis­ney’s “Beauty and the Beast” at the box of­fice with a $49 mil­lion de­but, hand­ing its star Alec Bald­win what Pres­i­dent Trump might call a “huge” No. 1 open­ing. Para­mount Pic­tures suf­fered an­other flop with its con­tro­versy-plagued “Ghost in the Shell.”

The Dream­Works An­i­ma­tion re­lease from 20th Cen­tury Fox, star­ring Mr. Bald­win as a suit-clad baby, nar­rowly edged out the pre­vi­ous two-week leader, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day. The live-ac­tion “Beauty and the Beast” took in $48 mil­lion in its third week­end. Fi­nal North Amer­i­can ticket sales will be re­leased Mon­day.

“We ex­pected a de­cent open­ing. We didn’t ex­pect to be No. 1,” said Chris Aron­son, Fox dis­tri­bu­tion chief.

De­spite the pop­u­lar­ity of “Beauty and the Beast” (nearly $400 mil­lion do­mes­ti­cally in 17 days, and $876.3 mil­lion glob­ally), “The Boss Baby” was able to at­tract its own fam­ily au­di­ence.

Mr. Aron­son cred­ited that partly to the ap­peal of Mr. Bald­win, whose im­pres­sion of Don­ald Trump on NBC’s “Satur­day Night Live” has lately been ubiq­ui­tous. “The Boss Baby” also evokes Mr. Bald­win’s old “Glen­garry Glen Ross” char­ac­ter with quips like “Cookies are for closers.”

“Alec Bald­win’s voice is rec­og­niz­able, in gen­eral. But he’s so top­i­cal now be­cause of some of the other things he’s do­ing right now,” said Mr. Aron­son. “It’s a very dis­tinc­tive voice, and if you put it on a baby, it’s funny.”

“Ghost in the Shell,” a re­make of a clas­sic 1995 Ja­panese an­ime film, couldn’t com­pete with ei­ther fam­ily-friendly re­lease. The dystopian sci­encefic­tion thriller, star­ring Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, opened with just $19 mil­lion, a poor show­ing for a film that cost about $110 mil­lion to make.

Many took is­sue with the cast­ing of Miss Jo­hans­son as the cy­borg pro­tag­o­nist, who was Ja­panese in the orig­i­nal. Crit­ics called it an­other ex­am­ple of Hollywood white­wash­ing.

“We had hopes for bet­ter re­sults do­mes­ti­cally. I think the con­ver­sa­tion re­gard­ing cast­ing im­pacted the re­views,” said Kyle Davies, do­mes­tic dis­tri­bu­tion chief for Para­mount. “You’ve got a movie that is very im­por­tant to the fan­boys since it’s based on a Ja­panese an­ime movie. So you’re al­ways try­ing to thread that nee­dle be­tween hon­or­ing the source ma­te­rial and make a movie for a mass au­di­ence. That’s chal­leng­ing but clearly the re­views didn’t help.”

Au­di­ences ap­peared to agree with crit­ics, giv­ing the film a medi­ocre B Cine­maS­core.

“Ghost in the Shell” will in­stead hope to find more ea­ger movie­go­ers in Ja­pan (where the cast­ing con­tro­versy has not res­onated) and China next week­end. Open­ing in most other in­ter­na­tional coun­tries this week­end, “Ghosts in the Shell” took in a mod­est $40.1 mil­lion.

Para­mount re­cently has suf­fered a string of box-of­fice dis­ap­point­ments. Last week, Vi­a­com Inc. hired for­mer Fox film head Jim Gianop­u­los to turn around its film di­vi­sion.

In limited re­lease, Fo­cus Fea­tures’ “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” star­ring Jes­sica Chastain, opened well with $3.3 mil­lion at 541 lo­ca­tions. Based on Diane Ack­er­man’s non­fic­tion book, the film is about a woman’s ef­forts to save Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust. It will ex­pand next week­end.

CREDIT

“The Boss Baby,” star­ring Alec Bald­win, opened at No. 1 this week­end with $49 mil­lion in sales.

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