March was a banner month for Disney with the long-anticipated debut of its live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, which roared to a $175 million opening weekend domestically. Followed by a second weekend at No. 1 as it hurtles towards what is sure to be a $1B worldwide take, the blockbuster appeared to be a shoo-in for the top spot at the box office this weekend… that is until cutthroat baby business mogul voiced by Alec Baldwin entered the equation and crunched Beauty and the Beast’s numbers.

Variety reports that DreamWorks/Twentieth Century Fox’s The Boss Baby has debuted at No. 1 at this weekend’s box office with $49 million in ticket sales, edging Beauty and the Beast’s take of $48 million. The Boss Baby opened in 3,773 locations as opposed to Beauty playing in 4,210 locations with only a 47 percent drop in business from a week ago. The Boss Baby’s debut is impressive considering  that trade publication says computer-animated family comedy, budgeted at over $100 million, was projected to debut in the $30 million range.

Despite the box office mettle of both The Boss Baby and Beauty and the Beast, the big story this weekend was the dismal No. 3 debut of the Scarlett Johansson’s live-action adaptation of the anime manga classic Ghost in the Shell, which pulled in just $19 million in ticket sales at 3,440 locations. In addition to being in the crosshairs of critics (the Paramount film had an underwhelming 42 percent aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes) it was embroiled in a whitewashing controversy over complaints that Johansson and Michael Pitt were cast in favor of Japanese actors in Rupert Sanders’ action film.

Michael Pitt and Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell Ghost in the Shell Grosses $19 Million in Opening Weekend

Even though Ghost in the Shell doesn’t appear to be facing any dominant competition next week when Warner Bros.’ geriatric comedy heist Going in Style and Sony’s computer-animated Smurfs: The Lost Village open, it still has a lot of ground to make up. Ghost in the Shell has a reported budget of $110 million, and even though it made an additional $40 million in foreign territories for a running global cume of $59 million, there are still unreported marketing costs and back-end percentage deals that need to be factored into the overall equation. No matter where the film’s total ends up, it looks to be considered a bomb when it ends its theatrical frame.

Rounding out the top 5 this weekend is Lionsgate’s Power Rangers at No. 4, which in its second week pulled in $14.5 million for a running domestic total of $65 million against a $100 million budget; and Warner Bros.’ Kong: Skull Island at No. 5 with $8.8 million for a running domestic cume of $148 million against a budget of $185 million. One other new release this weekend, Jessica Chastain’s World War II drama The Zookeeper’s Wife, from Focus Features, opened with $3.34 million in ticket sales in 541 locations for a 10th place finish.

Sources: Variety, Rotten Tomatoes, Box Office Mojo

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