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‘Boss Baby’ Leads ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at Friday Box Office; ‘Smurfs’ Quietly Debuts in Third

Alec Baldwin is still the box office boss.

The Boss Baby” is heading for a second straight victory over a trio of newcomers and Emma Watson’s “Beauty and the Beast,” with about $25 million at the domestic pre-Easter weekend box office, early estimates showed Friday.

Disney’s fourth weekend of “Beauty and the Beast” will finish a close second in the $21 million to $23 million range to lift its North American haul to around $430 million — enough to become the 15th highest-grossing film of all time at the domestic box office, surpassing Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

A pair of newcomers — Sony’s animated “Smurfs: The Lost Village” and New Line’s heist comedy “Going in Style” — will battle for third place with “Smurfs” finishing in the $13 million to $15 million range at 3,610 locations, while “Going in Style” appears headed for between $10 million to $12 million at 3,061 sites.

Paramount’s second weekend of “Ghost in the Shell” will lose about half of its opening weekend take of $18.7 million, with early estimates in the $8 million to $9 million range. The weekend’s other new release, Pure Flix’s faith-based “The Case for Christ,” is performing in line with estimates and should close the weekend between $4 million and $6 million at 1,135 sites.

The Boss Baby,” produced by DreamWorks Animation, has been an outsize success so far with a $50 million launch weekend — one of the best ever for a comedy opening in the first quarter.

The remake of “Going in Style” launched with a moderate $600,000 on Thursday night, while “Smurfs: The Lost Village” debuted with $375,000.

“Smurfs: The Lost Village” is Sony’s third film in the franchise about blue humanoids living in mushroom-shaped houses. The studio’s live action-CGI “The Smurfs” grossed $563.7 million globally in 2011, followed by 2013’s “The Smurfs 2,” which made $347.5 million worldwide on a $105 million budget.

“The Lost Village” was shot entirely CGI, resulting in substantial cost savings. The latest film carries a $60 million budget. Sony is banking on continued support from the family audience during spring vacations, plus stronger overseas results.

“Going in Style,” starring Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, and Michael Caine, had been expected to open to a quiet $8 million Friday-Sunday so the initial results are positive news. The film is a reboot of the 1979 heist comedy about a gang of geriatrics, played by George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg.

The new film is directed Zach Braff with New Line and Village Roadshow partnering on the comedy, which cost an economical $25 million to make.

The weekend follows a monstrous month, which marked the first time the March box office hit $1 billion-plus, thanks to the first day of “The Boss Baby,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Logan,” and “Kong: Skull Island.” The year-to-date domestic box office hit $3.07 billion as of April 5, up 4.3% over the same period a year ago, according to comScore.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, noted that the April 14-16 launch of Universal’s “The Fate of the Furious” will be massive.

“The month of April has much to prove with its younger sibling, the month of March, showing much strength after contributing over a billion dollars for the first time ever to the calendar year box office,” he added.”As ‘The Fate of The Furious’ looms large on the horizon, this weekend will truly embody the proverbial calm before the storm with a fairly quiet frame on tap.”

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