‘Boss Baby,’ ‘Ghost in the Shell’ to Battle ‘Beauty and the Beast’ This Weekend

DreamWorks and Paramount send in new releases as Disney nears yet another $1 billion milestone

“Beauty and the Beast,” which crossed $700 million at the worldwide box office on Monday, looks to hold on to the No. 1 spot for a third week despite DreamWorks Animation’s “The Boss Baby” being set to take a chunk out of the Disney behemoth’s family audience.

“Boss Baby,” which is projected by independent trackers to earn an opening in the low 30s this weekend, stars Alec Baldwin as a fast-talking, hard-negotiating infant who has incurred the jealousy of his seven-year-old brother Tim (Miles Christopher Bakshi/Tobey Maguire). The two brothers learn to bond after a plot by the evil CEO Francis E. Francis (Steve Buscemi) puts the Boss Baby in danger. Directed by Tom McGrath (“Madagascar”), the film also voice stars Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel as the brothers’ parents.

Moviegoers who went to see “Beauty and the Beast” in its opening weekend got a surprise when they saw a tailor-made trailer for “Boss Baby” that featured Baldwin’s character giving his elevator pitch for the movie after playing with toys resembling “Beauty and the Beast” characters Lumiere and Cogsworth. “We don’t have any talking candlesticks but if that’s a deal-breaker we’ll cram one in there somewhere,” he quipped.

But “Boss Baby” will need to perform well above projections to have a chance to take the top spot from “Beauty,” which made $88 million domestically in its second frame last weekend, putting it in the top five highest second frames of all-time. “Beauty” would need to suffer a 60 percent drop-off for “Boss Baby” to have a chance, which is not likely considering the remake’s popularity among audiences and the good chance it will continue to screen in its original theater count of 4,210 screens. “Boss Baby,” meanwhile, has a 26 percent score among early reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

Also coming out this weekend is Paramount’s “Ghost in the Shell,” a live-action remake of the classic ’90s anime film. The film stars Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi, a human-cyborg hybrid crimefighter who, along with her team known as Section 9, is tasked with hunting down an elusive and dangerous hacker known as the Puppet Master.

“Ghost in the Shell” has been dogged by controversy since the first images of Johansson in the film were released, as anime fans and culture critics labeled Johansson’s casting as an example of an Asian character being given to a white actor. But even without the negativity surrounding the film, “Ghost in the Shell” still faces the challenge of bucking the trend of poor results for American anime remakes, which includes “Dragonball Evolution,” “Astro Boy,” and “Speed Racer.” Current projections have “Ghost” making around $25 million this weekend, with reviews still to come.

“It’s rather similar to the struggles we’ve seen with movies based on video games like ‘Assassins Creed'” said comScore’s Paul Dergarabedian. “It’s just been a genre that’s been difficult to decode for filmmakers and to make into a film that can be a success with wider audiences.”

As for “Beauty and the Beast,” the $1 billion milestone is within sight and is expected to be reached sometime next week at the latest. Now it has the chance for some higher goals, namely the $1.23 billion set four years ago by “Frozen.” The next two weekends certainly give “Beauty” a chance to keep bringing in strong holdover totals, as after “Boss Baby” comes Sony Animation’s “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” which also isn’t expected to be much of a challenge. It isn’t until “The Fate of the Furious” hits theaters April 14 that a new top film is expected to arrive at the box office.

But “Smurfs” and “Boss Baby” could prove more troublesome for “Power Rangers,” which is coming off of a stronger-than-expected $40 million opening. Analysts tell TheWrap that a $100 million domestic return combined with a strong showing overseas should be enough to turn “Rangers” into the start of a new film series for Lionsgate, who is looking for a new blockbuster franchise to replace its soon-to-be-concluded “Divergent” series.

To reach that domestic mark, it will require a strong holdover, which may prove difficult to do this weekend with “Boss Baby” and “Ghost” dividing the attention of family and action film audiences that propelled “Power Rangers” to its solid start. But if “Rangers” can hold its drop-off to under 50 percent, it has a good chance of a strong final domestic total.

“Unless you’re a big name like ‘Beauty’ or ‘Logan,’ this is a really tough month to be in,” said Dergarabedian. “We saw in the first half of March a bunch of big releases like ‘Logan,’ ‘Kong: Skull Island,’ and ‘Beauty,’ as well as ‘Get Out,’ which has had a lot of mileage. Now in the second half, we’re seeing several new releases coming out at the same time and fighting for moviegoers’ attention, and they’re not just competing against each other, but also against these holdovers too.”