Two Disney pictures with black directors dominated at the box office this week, as newcomer "A Wrinkle in Time" finished second behind the juggernaut that is "Black Panther."
That Ryan Coogler-directed blockbuster maintained its box office dominance for the fourth week running, adding an estimated $41.1 million to its domestic earnings, above analysts' expectations of $35 million, and raising its cumulative ticket sales to $562 million, according to the measurement firm ComScore.
On Saturday the film surpassed the $1-billion mark globally, the 16th Disney release to reach that milestone and the fifth Marvel Cinematic Universe picture to do so. The other Marvel films to gross more than a billion dollars at the box office are "The Avengers," "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Iron Man 3" and "Captain America: Civil War."
Debuting in second place, Disney's "A Wrinkle in Time" came in soft with $33.3 million, slightly lower than the $35 million some analysts had expected heading into the weekend.
The PG-rated film was directed by Ava DuVernay and stars Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Chris Pine. It's based on the 1962 novel by Madeleine L'Engle about a young girl who explores the cosmos in search of her father.
The studio tries to take advantage of the spring break period before Easter, said Dave Hollis, president of theatrical distribution at Disney.
"We feel good about where we're starting, in part because there's nothing competitive for families for the next couple weeks," he said. "We've just had so much success in this corridor that we feel like we'll put up a good run when all is said and done."
Though the film, whose production budget was more than $100 million, came in under expectations, it still managed to top recent Disney live-action disappointments like Steven Spielberg's "The BFG" and Brad Bird's "Tomorrowland."
"It's audiences clearly saying that female empowerment matters, that drawing a younger audience matters, that there's power in diverse voices,' Hollis said. "Particularly in the case of 'Wrinkle in Time,' people are hungry for stories about optimism and hope. So we feel great on all fronts."
"Wrinkle in Time" earned mixed reviews, getting a B rating from audience polling firm CinemaScore and a 42% positive rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Also new this week, Aviron Pictures' "Strangers: Prey at Night" opened in third place with $10.4 million.
The low-budget horror sequel about a family road trip gone awry came in above analysts' predictions of $7 million to $9 million. The film is a follow-up to 2008's "The Strangers," distributed by Rogue Pictures. "Prey at Night" received a C rating on CinemaScore and a 37% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Now in its second week, the Jennifer Lawrence-led spy thriller "Red Sparrow" from Fox came in fourth, adding $8.1 million to its earnings, a 52% decline, for a cumulative $31.1 million gross.
Rounding out the top five: Warner Bros.' "Game Night," now in its third week, which earned $7.9 million for a cumulative $45 million.
The only other newcomer in the top 10, Entertainment Studios' $40-million action thriller "The Hurricane Heist," debuted at No. 8 with $3.1 million in earnings, below analysts' predictions of $4 million to $7 million.
STX Entertainment and Amazon's Studio's R-rated comedy "Gringo" premiered with $2.6 million. The R-rated action flick stars David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Thandie Newton and Amanda Seyfried. It was unpopular with audiences and critics, earning a C-plus rating on CinemaScore and a 39% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Focus Feature's "Thoroughbreds" opened with $1.2 million in 549 theaters. The film earned an 86% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Next week, Focus Features opens the thriller "7 Days in Entebbe," Roadside Attractions premieres the family film "I Can Only Imagine," Fox debuts LBGTQ coming of age story "Love, Simon" and Warner Bros. reveals its "Tomb Raider" reboot. The Orchard will open the comedy/drama "Flower" in limited release.