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Box Office: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Still Commanding No. 1 Despite ‘Power Rangers’ Surge

Disney’s second weekend of “Beauty and the Beast” is heading for a  dominant $85 million in North America for the Friday-Sunday period, early estimates showed Friday.

Lionsgate’s opening of “Power Rangers” is launching with as much as $40 million this weekend — though the studio  is maintaining its $30 million forecast. Sony’s space-thriller “Life” is showing moderate traction with early estimates pegging the film to around $14 million while Warner Bros.’ action-comedy “Chips” appears headed for a quiet opening in the $6 million to $9 million range.

In short, it’s a “Beauty and the Beast” weekend again at 4,210 domestic locations — one that should rank as the fourth-largest second weekend of all time, trailing only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at $149 million, “Jurassic World” at $106 million and “Marvel’s The Avengers” at $103 million.

This weekend will make “Beauty and the Beast” — starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast — the 66th movie to top the $300 million mark, topping the milestone in just 10 days.

Friday’s take for “Beauty and the Beast” was about $23 million, while “Power Rangers” was forecast with an opening day in the $14 million range — including $3.6 million in Thursday night previews. Disney reported Friday that the worldwide total for “Beauty and the Beast” had already topped $490 million in its first week.

“Beauty and the Beast,” along with Fox’s “Logan,” Warner’s “Kong: Skull Island” and Universal’s “Get Out,” have led a charge over the past month that has given the domestic box office a major boost.  Through March 22, the 2017 domestic box office has totaled $2.575 billion, up 6.1% over the same point in 2016, according to comScore.

“With year to date box office moving from dead even about two weeks ago to a 6% advantage, this weekend’s movie marketplace becomes even more crowded with three wide release newcomers set to battle uphill against the continued strength of a cadre of strong holdovers,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. “Notably, the month of March is poised, for the first time ever, to eclipse the $1 billion mark in total box office with $832.7 million already banked and basking in the glow of its freshly minted status as a true blockbuster month.”

“Power Rangers,” a reboot of the 1990’s television show about five teenage superheroes, is opening at 3,693 locations Friday with expectations of about $30 million for the weekend. The cast features Becky G. as the Yellow Ranger, Ludi Lin as the Black Ranger, Naomi Scott as the Pink Ranger, Dacre Montgomery as the Red Ranger and R.J. Cyler as the Blue Ranger. Elizabeth Banks plays the evil alien witch Rita Repulsa.

The movie reimagines the origins of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a group of high schoolers given extraterrestrial powers who unite to save the world. Lionsgate and Haim Saban announced plans in 2014 for a live-action movie based on Saban’s “Power Rangers” property as the first film in a franchise; Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer has asserted that it may do as many as seven films. “Power Rangers” carries a $100 million price tag.

The third weekend of Warner-Legendary’s “Kong: Skull Island” was headed for third place with about $18 million at 3,666 locations, which should give the giant ape a domestic total of $140 million at the end of the weekend.

Sony-Skydance’s “Life” — starring Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds and jake Gyllenhaal as International Space Station astronauts — was headed for about $5 million on Friday, including $800,000 in Thursday night previews. “Life,” which has a $58 million budget, premiered at South by Southwest on March 18 and has generated mixed reviews with a 62% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Warner Bros. is rolling out action-comedy “Chips,” starring Dax Shepard and Michael Pena, amid muted expectations of about $8 million at 2,464 theaters. The R-rated reboot of the TV series, which starred Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox, has not gained much critical traction with a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The fourth  weekend of Fox’s “Logan” will likely lead “Chips” with about $11 million at 3,687 sites. “Logan” has taken in more than $190 million in Hugh Jackman’s farewell to the Wolverine character.

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