'Boss' beats 'Beauty' and 'Ghost in the Shell' in the battle for box office supremacy

After two weeks of domination by Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” there’s a new boss in town.

In a squeaker, Fox and DreamWorks Animation’s CG-animated family comedy “The Boss Baby” claimed the top spot at the box office, pulling in a bigger-than-expected weekend estimate of $49 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Continuing to hold strong in its third weekend in release, “Beauty and the Beast” followed closely behind with $47.5 million, bringing the musical fairy tale’s domestic total to within spitting distance of $400 million and its global haul to more than $875 million.

Heading into the weekend, box office prognosticators were projecting an opening for “The Boss Baby” in the neighborhood of $33 million. But, with many kids across the country now on spring break and “Beauty and the Beast” no longer sucking up all the oxygen, “The Boss Baby” managed to handily outperform those expectations.

Reviews for “The Boss Baby” — which cast Alec Baldwin as the voice of a ruthless capitalist infant who declares with Trump-ian bluster that “cookies are for closers” — were mixed at best, but audiences proved more favorable, giving the CG-animated film a CinemaScore of A-minus.

“This was a comedic take on a great concept that audiences just gravitated towards,” said 20th Century Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson, noting the film proved a particularly strong draw in the middle of the country, propelled by its simple, grabby hook. “I think Alec Baldwin as the voice of the baby — boom, you’re in. I mean, come on, a baby in a suit with a briefcase!”

While “The Boss Baby” managed to beat projections, the weekend’s other major newcomer, Paramount’s “Ghost in the Shell,” significantly underperformed, landing in a distant third with $19 million.

Based on a Japanese sci-fi-action manga series that was previously adapted into an acclaimed 1995 anime film, “Ghost in the Shell” was hamstrung by lackluster reviews and criticisms of whitewashing over the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the lead role. Budgeted at $110 million, the film came in at less than half of the $43.9-million debut of Johansson’s 2014 solo sci-fi action film, “Lucy.”

Lionsgate’s “Power Rangers” finished in fourth place, taking in $14.5 million in its second weekend. That marked a steep 64% drop from the film’s opening, a less-than-auspicious sign for the prospects of turning the 1990s nostalgia bait into an ongoing franchise.

Rounding out the top five was the giant-monster epic “Kong: Skull Island,” which earned $8.8 million, bringing its cumulative domestic total to nearly $150 million.

Meanwhile, another pair of holdovers — the gritty, violent superhero film “Logan” and the horror-satire “Get Out” — continued to show impressive staying power, landing in sixth and seventh place, respectively. Taking in $5.8 million, “Get Out” brought its overall domestic total to more than $156 million, a staggering return for a film that cost just $4.5 million to produce.

In more limited release, Focus Features’ drama “The Zookeeper’s Wife” took in $3.3 million from 541 theaters, good enough to squeeze into the top 10 ahead of its wider opening next weekend.

calendar@latimes.com

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