Weekend Box Office March 24-26: 'Beast' Doesn't Let Up + 'Moonlight' Builds on Int'l Success + A New Indie Black Film Made the List

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April 20th 2017

RiverRain Productions RiverRain Productions

It's no surprise that Disney's "Beauty and the Beast", with $88 million this weekend, was once again No.1 at the box office. But with an amazing $317 million just here in the U.S. alone and in less than two weeks, means that it's a steamroller that just can't be stopped. And with $690 million million worldwide to date, it's very possible that, at the rate it's going, it could eventually land as as one the top ten grossing films worldwide ever, joining that exclusive list that includes "Avatar", "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "Jurassic World".

Meanwhile Lionsgate hit gold, coming in second with $40.5 million, with their reboot of "Power Rangers" which struck a nostalgic chord with film-goers who grew up watching the TV show and the movie. Marvel/Fox's "Logan," which came in fifth, has now crossed the $200 million mark domestically, and is well past the half a billion dollar mark worldwide with $547 million.

As for this weekend's other big openers - "Life" and "CHIPS" = the results weren't so great.

The $60 million sci-ci/horror film "Life" whose release date Sony Pictures moved several times, suffered badly from the fact that audiences could tell that it was just the-same-ol'-same-ol' about a killer alien in a space ship - something that has been done 1000 times before. And even worse for the film is that, when it comes to that specific premise, people automatically think of the Ridley Scott classic "Alien". And since there's a new legitimate "Alien" film coming out this May, also directed by Scott, why waste money and time with a mediocre rip-off like "Life", when you could just wait two months for the real thing? Besides, from the "Life" trailer, it was obvious that the only brother in the film would be the first one to get killed off, which would've turned away black.

With Warner Bros.' "CHIPS", one could see what the studio was going for, after following the lead of the very successful "21 Jump Street" movies, which were big box office hits for Sony. Take a popular TV show from the 80's that younger film-goers have a nostalgic fondness for, even though the series was never that good in the first place, and put a new spin on it, giving it a cutting humorous edge, and just watch the bucks flow in. Unfortunately with "CHIPS", that concept was badly done.

Based on the popular NBC TV show from the 80's about California motorcycle highway cops, the film, which was originally supposed to be released in August, smelled liked a loser judging from the unfunny trailers for the film. Even worse, it was clear that the studio knew that it had a bomb when they refused to have any advance media screenings, which is always a sign of big trouble.

In the little-film-that-could category, A24's "Moonlight" continues to impress even the skeptics. To date, the film has grossed some $56.1 million worldwide, which is split between $28.6 million internationally, and $27.5 million domestic. Of course we're not talking about "Beauty" and the Beast" or "Logan" box office numbers here, and no one excepted it to do anything even remotely close to what those movies have done. But "Moonlight's" box office has far surpassed anything that anyone (including myself) predicted, especially given its tiny $1.5 million budget, and the fact that it's considered a hard to categorize, black art house film without a single white person in the cast. And no doubt being an Oscar winner, and the fact that director Barry Jenkins (along with members of the cast traveled across Europe to promote the film) helped as well in terms of international box office.

And they said it couldn't be done.

All this proves two things: 1) If it's a good film and one that affects audiences emotionally, they will come; and 2) as we have stated on S & A many times (and as Tambay did just recently) black films do "travel" and widely. Enough of this "no one cares about us" B.S. which I have heard way to many times from people with low self esteem.

Next for "Moonlight" is Japan where it opens this Friday on 76 screens; but because of the international success of the film, A24 is now revising its strategy for China. Originally the film, which will play at the Beijing International Film Festival in April, was scheduled to open exclusively on VOD in the country. Now the distributor is working out a deal to open the film theatrically first and is reportedly close to working something out.

Finally, another independently made and distributed black film cracked the top 12 this weekend - the basketball saga "Slamma Jamma" which came in 11th, with just under $1.7 million on 502 screens. The modest feature, which was made for just under a million, deals with a former basketball star who was wrongfully jailed for a crime he did not commit, and seeks redemption at a national slam dunk competition. It was produced and directed by Timothy A. Chey, a USC Film School and Boston University Law School graduate, who still does pro bono legal work, while producing and directing films of which he has some 11 to date.

Though it came in under the radar, "Slamma Jamma" has gotten some very good reviews and proves what I previously mentioned - that if a film is good, they will come.

This weekend's top 12 grossing films follow below:

1) Beauty and the Beast BV $88,347,000 Total: $316,952,887
2) Power Rangers LGF $40,500,000 Total: $40,500,000
3) Kong: Skull Island WB $14,425,000 Total: $133,502,238
4) Life Sony $12,600,000
5) Logan Fox $10,145,000 Total: $201,455,596
6) Get Out Uni. $8,681,010 Total: $147,499,045
7) CHiPs WB $7,600,000
8) The Shack LG/S $3,785,000 Total: $49,072,044
9) The LEGO Batman Movie WB $1,970,000 Total: $170,841,252
10) The Belko Experiment BH Tilt $1,807,000 Total: $7,577,565
11) Slamma Jamma RivR $1,687,000
12) Hidden Figures Fox $785,000 Total: $167,046,872

by Sergio Mims on April 20th 2017
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