'Power Rangers' won't topple 'Beauty and the Beast' at the box office

Lionsgate's reboot of Saban's teen superhero franchise is poised for a $35-million domestic opening.

In 1993, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” became an overnight television phenomenon. It spawned a seemingly endless string of toys, goofy follow-up seasons (“Power Rangers Jungle Fury”) and a generation of kids who imitated the show’s karate moves.

Twenty-four years later, Lionsgate and Saban Entertainment hope that the franchise’s big-screen revival will draw droves of fans to the multiplex.

This weekend’s release of “Power Rangers,” about five teenagers who must save the world from an ancient alien menace, will be a key test of the franchise’s staying power following a year full of promotional efforts. However, all signs indicate that the big-budget adaptation will be no match for another 1990s nostalgic spectacle — Disney’s blockbuster live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Here's what to watch:

Go, Go, ‘Power Rangers’?

The math of a “Power Rangers” reboot may make sense on paper. Many of the people who were obsessed with the original series as grade-schoolers now have children of their own. The movie uses “Transformers”-style computer graphics to bring the classic characters to life — a sharp contrast from the unapologetically low-rent visual effects of the show, which relied on actors in monster suits to portray each episode’s villains.

Yet it remains to be seen if the big-screen gamble, which cost $100 million to make plus millions more in marketing money, will pay off.

The movie is expected to open with $35 million in ticket sales from the United States and Canada, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys. That’s a modest start for a movie that Lionsgate Chief Executive Jon Feltheimer once told Wall Street could become a series of as many as seven films. The movie will need to turn in robust grosses internationally to be profitable. (A 1995 “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” movie delivered a mediocre $38 million for 20th Century Fox.)

While the new film brought in some established star power from Bryan Cranston as mentor Zordon and Elizabeth Banks as extraterrestrial nemesis Rita Repulsa, the multicolored teen rangers are played by an international cadre of relative newcomers, including Chinese actor Ludi Lin, YouTube star Becky G. and British actress Naomi Scott. Mediocre early reviews and the continued dominance of “Beauty and the Beast” could weigh on results.

Thing of ‘Beauty’

Last week, “Beauty and the Beast” validated Disney’s strategy of adapting its classic cartoons by opening with $175 million in its first three days in the United States and Canada, the largest debut ever for a March release. The $160-million film is also popular abroad, crossing the $400-million global box-office mark Tuesday, including domestic receipts, according to studio estimates.

The question now is how much will it add to its haul in its second weekend. Analysts predict that the film will gross $85 million to $90 million Friday through Sunday, easily enough to finish at No. 1 again. It has won over audiences with an A grade from exit polling firm CinemaScore, despite some lukewarm reviews from critics who complained of the lack of originality in retelling the 1991 fairy tale.

‘Life’ and ‘CHiPs’ look tepid

Sony’s new space-thriller “Life” has impressive stars, including Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal, and has scored some solid early reviews out of the South by Southwest Film Festival, but that may not be enough to get the movie off the launch pad.

“Life,” co-produced by David Ellison’s Skydance Media, is expected to gross $15 million in the United States and Canada through Sunday, a soft start for a movie that cost an estimated $58 million to make. The film follows a team of scientists on the International Space Station who discover a rapidly evolving life-form that threatens to destroy everyone.

Warner Bros.’s new action comedy “CHiPs,” written and directed by “Parenthood” star Dax Shepard and based on the late 1970s TV show, is not expected to arrest many moviegoers either. The adaptation is likely to open with about $8 million to $10 million. On the bright side, the reported production budget was only $25 million.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

Canada South by Southwest Elizabeth Banks

Article 'Power Rangers' won't topple 'Beauty and the Beast' at the box office compiled by www.latimes.com

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