‘Beauty’ Rules the Box Office Again, as ‘Power Rangers’ Surprises


Photo

Becky G, left, portrays Trini, the Yellow Ranger, and Elizabeth Banks the perfidious Rita Repulsa in “Saban‘s Power Rangers.”

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Kimberley French/Lionsgate

LOS ANGELES — Two attempts to turn faded television shows into box office hits had drastically different outcomes over the weekend, as “CHIPS” crashed into a wall of critical contempt and “Saban’s Power Rangers” pulled off one of moviedom’s hardest tricks: simultaneously satisfying older fans while enticing a new generation.

But neither of those new films could hold a talking candlestick to “Beauty and the Beast,” which took in $88 million at North American theaters, for a two-week domestic total of roughly $317 million. The Disney musical has already taken in an astounding $690 million worldwide, according to comScore, which compiles box office data.

“Power Rangers” (Lionsgate) was second. It collected $40.5 million, at the high end of prerelease analyst expectations. Designed to resuscitate one of the top television and toy properties of the 1990s, “Power Rangers” cost at least $100 million to make and tens of millions more to market. (The billionaire mogul and political power broker Haim Saban controls the characters, hence the film’s uneuphonious formal title.)

“Power Rangers” received weak reviews, a worrisome sign for five — count ’em, five — planned sequels. But ticket buyers felt differently. “The key was the audience reaction, which was pretty fantastic,” David Spitz, Lionsgate’s president for domestic distribution, said by phone on Sunday. “The exit polling showed that the movie really delivered for young and old, male and female.”

Attendees under 18 gave “Power Rangers” an A-plus grade, with the rest of the audience grading it an A, according to CinemaScore, a market-research firm. Diversity likely helped the movie. The ensemble cast includes Asian, black and Hispanic actors; one character is questioning her sexuality and another is autistic. (At the very least, it shows that Lionsgate learned a lesson after its “Gods of Egypt” casting debacle.) Only 36 percent of the “Power Rangers” audience was white, according to PostTrak.

Among other new wide-release films, “Life” did the best, taking in roughly $12.6 million — a poor showing, especially considering that Sony promoted it with Super Bowl ads. Most critics liked “Life,” but ticket buyers only gave it a C-plus CinemaScore grade, which bodes ill for word of mouth. The film’s downer ending and snooze-fest title may have been problems. Also, this has been an unusually competitive March at multiplexes.

The R-rated “Life” cost roughly $58 million to make, with most of the financing coming from Skydance Media, a company owned by the Oracle heir David Ellison.

“CHIPS,” which cost Warner Bros. and its financing partners about $25 million to make, was dead on arrival. It took in $7.8 million. Poor execution — the raunchy comedy was written and directed by Dax Shepard, who also played one of the lead roles — was seen as the primary reason. His film, criticized for its “gay panic” humor, was based on the 1977-83 television series about two California Highway Patrol officers.

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