'Beauty's' in beast mode as it bests 'Power Rangers' at the box office

In the battle of 1990s nostalgia, “Saban’s Power Rangers” was no match for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” while Dax Shepard’s “CHIPS” was out of the money in seventh place.

“Beauty and the Beast,” the live-action remake starring “Harry Potter’s” Emma Watson and “Legion’s” Dan Stevens, pulled in an estimated $88 million in the U.S and Canada in its second week, meeting analyst expectations of $85 million to $90 million. After a staggering $175-million domestic debut last week — the largest ever for a March release — the film has brought in a total of $317 million domestically.

Its total international take is $373 million for a global gross to date of $690.3 million. Such a performance comes despite some lukewarm reviews from critics who preferred the 1991 animated fairy tale.

Meanwhile, “Power Rangers” landed in second place with a $40.5-million debut, beating analyst projections of $35 million in ticket sales.

“We’re very, very pleased,” said David Spitz, the studio’s distribution chief. “It’s always nice when you come in over expectations.”

About five teenagers who must save the world from an ancient alien menace, “Saban’s Power Rangers” is a reboot of the 1993 television phenom “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” which spawned a seemingly endless string of toys, follow-up seasons and a generation of kids who imitated the show’s karate moves. Twenty-four years later, the new picture features Bryan Cranston as mentor Zordon, Elizabeth Banks as extraterrestrial nemesis Rita Repulsa and an international cadre of relative newbies as the colorful teen rangers, including Chinese actor Ludi Lin, YouTube star and local rapper Becky G. and British actress Naomi Scott.

Such a performance is a relatively solid start for a picture that cost $100 million to make, plus millions more in marketing following a year of promotional efforts. Certainly, the math of a “Power Rangers” reboot made plenty of sense on paper: Many of the once-obsessed fans of the original 1990s series now have children of their own; and the movie uses “Transformers”-style computer graphics to bring the classic characters to life — a sharp contrast from the unapologetically low-rent visual effects of the TV show, which relied on actors in monster suits to portray each episode’s villains.

But audiences and critics seem at odds with the result. While moviegoers (60% male; 50% 25 years old and over) gave the picture an A CinemaScore (and an A plus from the 30% of the audience under age 18), it has only a 46% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The movie will need to turn in robust grosses internationally to be profitable, especially if the studio is hoping for six sequels as its chief executive once talked about.

Landing in third place was Warner Bros.’ “Kong: Skull Island” in its third week with $14.4 million. It’s pulled in a total of $133.5 million domestically to date.

In fourth place was Sony’s new release “Life,” with $12.6 million, which is below analyst projections of $15 million.

The space thriller, about a group of astronauts on the verge of discovering life on Mars, stars Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson and Jake Gyllenhaal.

While the film did score solid early reviews out of the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas (and a 67% Rotten Tomatoes rating), audiences weren’t impressed. Moviegoers gave the picture a C plus CinemaScore.

“Life” was co-produced by David Ellison’s Skydance Media and cost an estimated $58 million to make.

Rounding out the top five was another holdover, Fox’s “Logan,” with $10.1 million in its fourth week. The latest in the X-Men franchise has grossed $201.5 million domestically to date.

The week’s final new release, Warner Bros.’ “CHIPS,” landed a seventh-place finish, behind Jordan Peele’s social thriller “Get Out.”

The action comedy, written and directed by “Parenthood” star Shepard and based on the late 1970s TV show, brought in only $7.6 million, narrowly missing the lower end of analyst expectations of $8 million to $10 million. On the bright side, the reported production budget was only $25 million.

“CHIPS” received a B-minus CinemaScore and a 20% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Get Out” made $8.7 million this week for a $147.5 million domestic gross to date. With Peele’s film in the early weeks of its global roll-out, “Get Out” has made $7 million internationally so far, for a worldwide total of $154.5 million. Only “Beauty and the Beast,” “Logan” and “The LEGO Batman Movie” have made more than “Get Out” domestically so far this year.

Premiering this week will be Fox’s animated picture “The Boss Baby” and Paramount’s sci-fi flick “Ghost in the Shell.”

calendar@latimes.com

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