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Box Office: ‘Shazam!’ Remains Victorious as ‘Little’ Beats ‘Hellboy’

Warner Bros.’ superhero adventure “Shazam!” took a victory lap at the domestic box office, retaining the No. 1 spot for the second weekend in a row.

“Shazam!” added another $25 million in its sophomore outing, bringing its North American haul to $94 million. That sum was easily enough to top a crop of newcomers including Universal’s comedy “Little,” Lionsgate’s remake of “Hellboy,” and Laika’s stop-motion animation “Missing Link.”

“Shazam!” fell 53% compared to opening weekend ticket sales, which is a promising number given the competition at multiplexes. DC’s masked hero also dominated at the international box office, pulling in $35.9 million for a global bounty of $258 million.

While “Shazam!” continued to entice comic-book fans, “Hellboy” wasn’t as fortunate. The R-rated fantasy film, based on Mike Mignola’s graphic novel, debuted below expectations with a disappointing $12 million from 3,303 locations. Heading into the weekend, box office sages anticipated a start north of $16 million. Overseas, “Hellboy” didn’t fare much better. The film pocketed $10 million from 41 territories, taking its worldwide start to $22 million.

Neil Marshall directed the reboot of “Hellboy,” which sees “Stranger Things” actor David Harbour assume the role of the red-skinned superhero. The movie was skewered by critics and audiences alike. It holds an abysmal 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, along with a disappointing C CinemaScore.

Males accounted for 56% of opening weekend crowds for “Hellboy,” while 64% of moviegoers were over the age of 25. Lionsgate acquired U.S. and U.K. rights to “Hellboy” from Millennium Media, which financed the film. Guillermo del Toro, who directed the original two “Hellboy” movies starring Ron Perlman, was not involved with the most recent adaptation.

Ticket sales for “Hellboy” weren’t enough to secure it second place on box office charts. That honor went to “Little,” a body-swap comedy about a tech mogul (Regina Hall) who transforms back into the 13-year-old version of herself (Marsai Martin) just before a major work presentation. Despite mixed reviews, it generated $15 million when it launched in 2,667 locations. That marks a solid debut, considering Universal spent $20 million to produce “Little.” “Little” also began its international rollout this weekend, grossing $1.9 million from 11 foreign markets.

“Little” pulled in a mostly older female audience, with women accounting for 65% of ticket buyers and 56% over the age of 25. African Americans made up 43% of crowds, while 28% were Caucasian and 21% were Hispanic. Will Packer, known for his work on “Girls Trip,” “Night School,” and the “Ride Along” franchise, produced the PG-13 comedy, which was directed by Tina Gordon. Martin, who came up with the premise of the movie, serves as the youngest executive producer of all time.

Universal’s president of domestic distribution, Jim Orr, points to the genre of “Little” for its strong start. “Little” is the lone comedy in a marketplace mainly dominated by superhero tentpoles and horror flicks.

“‘Little’ doesn’t look like anything else out there right now. More importantly, Will Packer continues to deliver great films for a very diverse audience,” Orr said. “He really does understand an audience and knows how to put together great casts and great writing.”

Elsewhere, “Missing Link” struggled to draw audiences, faltering with $5.8 million when it opened on 3,413 screens. Although it received some of the best reception among new releases — it has an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and a B+ CinemaScore — the stop-motion animated adventure just barely cracked the top 10 in its debut.

From Laika, the studio behind “Coraline” and “ParaNorman,” “Missing Link” follows a myths and monsters investigator who sets off to prove the existence of a mythical creature called Mr. Link. Directed by Chris Butler, the voice cast of “Missing Link” includes Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana and Emma Thompson.

This weekend’s final fresh offering “After,” a YA romantic drama launched in eighth place with $6.2 million from 2,138 theaters. The movie, an adaptation of Anna Todd’s best-selling fan fiction novel, pocketed a promising $11.7 million when it debuted in 29 overseas markets.

Paramount’s remake of “Pet Sematary” and Disney’s re-imagining of “Dumbo” rounded out the top five. Based on Stephen King’s novel, “Pet Sematary” scared up another $10 million for a domestic haul to $41 million. Meanwhile, “Dumbo” generated $9.1 million, bringing it to $89.8 million in ticket sales.

Among specialty releases, Bleecker Street’s “Teen Spirit” generated $44,361 when it opened in four theaters, translating to $11,090 per venue. Directed by “The Handmaid’s Tale” actor Max Minghella, the musical drama stars Elle Fanning as a teenager who has big dreams of becoming a pop star.

Another musically driven drama, Gunpower & Sky’s “Her Smell” starring Elisabeth Moss, launched with $39,058 from three screens. That comes out to $13,019 from each location. The film is expanding to an additional 20 cities next weekend.

Despite hits like “Shazam!, “Captain Marvel,” and “Us,” the domestic box office continues to pace behind last year by nearly 17%, according to Comscore. However, there’s a hero on the horizon. Disney and Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” is on track to deliver what could be the biggest opening weekend of all time when it arrives in theaters on April 26. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will have their hands full defeating Thanos. Can they also save the box office?

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