'Boss Baby' to sack 'Smurfs,' and other box office predictions

A newly-discovered tribe of lady Smurfs. A trio of elderly bank robbers. An atheist newsman who finds Jesus. All these things are likely to fizzle at the box office this weekend, proving no match for DreamWorks Animation’s “The Boss Baby” and Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

Alec Baldwin’s baby with a briefcase and Disney’s latest live action remake are expected to continue to dominate moviegoing in the United States and Canada in the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, respectively.

That leaves Sony Pictures’ “Smurfs: The Lost Village” with a probable third place finish, as Warner Bros.’ “Going in Style” and PureFlix’s “The Case for Christ" struggle in a game of haves and have-nots.

Here’s what to expect:

Make room for the ‘Boss’

“The Boss Baby,” DreamWorks Animation’s and 20th Century Fox’s family comedy about a blustery infant in a suit, surprised Hollywood last weekend by nudging “Beauty and the Beast” from the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office. Following a better-than-expected opening of $50 million, the computer animated romp is expected to take in about $25 million Friday through Sunday in the United States and Canada. That would be the biggest opening for a DreamWorks Animation movie since “Home” debuted with $52 million in 2015.

The movie’s solid audience response and its star, Baldwin, whose popularity has soared because of his portrayal of Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” should continue to draw crowds this weekend. It received an A-minus grade from exit polling firm CinemaScore, boding well for its future, with many kids on spring break. The film has also boasted strong international business with $59 million in ticket sales.

Meanwhile, “Beauty and Beast” could pass the $1-billion milestone this weekend by adding roughly $20 million to its coffers stateside and millions more overseas. The Emma Watson-Dan Stevens retelling of the 1991 animated musical has amassed a stunning $396 million domestically and $490 million internationally for a global tally of $886 million since opening March 17. It cost $160 million to make.

All Smurfed out

Not all family movies will be so lucky. Sony Pictures has returned to its “Smurfs" franchise, this time with an all-animated version (the first two movies combined computer graphics and live action). In a feminist turn for “The Lost Village,” the Smurf gang meets an all-female tribe led by Smurfwillow, voiced by Julia Roberts.

But mediocre reviews and heavy competition from other kid-friendly fare could hamper grosses, in a less-than-encouraging sign for the longevity of the franchise.

The new “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is projected to open with less than $20 million Friday through Sunday, according to analysts. That would be on par with the $17-million opening of 2013’s “The Smurfs 2,” and a far cry from the first “Smurfs” film in 2011 that opened to $35 million and exploded with more than $560 million worldwide.

This outing, however, was less expensive. It reportedly cost $60 million to make, after factoring in production incentives, compared to its predecessors that each cost more than $100 million. The series also has a history of doing well internationally.

Limited ‘Style’ and a cold ‘Case’

The two major remaining new movies, “Going in Style” and “The Case for Christ,” are also expected to get a tepid reception at the box office.

Warner, New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow will chase mature audiences with “Going in Style,” a remake of the 1979 heist film of the same name. This time, Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine play geriatric friends who turn to criminal activity when they fall on hard times. The $24-million movie, which appears to be going for a “Last Vegas”-meets-Occupy Wall Street vibe, is projected to take in a modest $8 million. It’s directed by Zach Braff, best known for the 2004 indie hit “Garden State" and the TV show “Scrubs.”

Faring no better will be “The Case for Christ,” based on author Lee Strobel’s faith-defending text that has been in heavy rotation on church reading lists for years. The movie, starring Mike Vogel and Faye Dunaway, follows the journalist Strobel, who sets out to disprove Christianity but is instead convinced of the Bible’s veracity. Despite the popular source material and the usual endorsements from pastors and faith leaders, including Strobel, the film is expected to gross less than $10 million this weekend.

ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

Twitter: @rfaughnder

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