Boss Baby: Alec Baldwin Animated Comedy Dominates the Box-Office

Fox’s clever animated comedy Boss Baby led the domestic box-office with $49 million from 3,773 locations, dethroning Beauty and the Beast.

The Disney live action dominated the multiplexes since debuting three weeks ago. Beauty and the Beast added another $48 million to its huge $395.5 million domestic haul.

Boss Baby centers on a standoff between babies and puppies. Alec Baldwin voices a power suit-wearing infant, leading a vocal cast that includes Tobey Maguire, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, and Lisa Kudrow.

DreamWorks Animation produced the film for over $100 million, with Fox distributing the picture. Heading into the weekend, Boss Baby had been projected to debut to $30 million.

“The picture works because it’s a great concept and having Alec Baldwin, who is such a well known voice, voicing a baby is near genius,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s head of domestic distribution. Aronson said he was surprised that the reviews for the film weren’t stronger.

The weekend’s other new release, Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell, bombed, taking in a meager $19 million.

Ghost in the Shell, an adaptation of a popular Japanese manga about a cyber-enhanced warrior (Scarlett Johansson) who must take down a cabal of terrorist hackers, was produced in conjunction with DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment. If it wants to fight its way into the black, it will need to get a big lift from foreign crowds. To that end, the science-fiction story pulled in $40.1 million abroad from 50 foreign territories.

The release was subsumed by controversy over its casting and accusations that by choosing Johansson the film had engaged in “whitewashing.” It was cited in a larger, industry-wide debate about studios’ habits of employing white actors in Asian roles.

The scandalous casting was mentioned in many of the negative notices that the picture received.  “It was a small, but vocal group,” said Megan Colligan, Paramount’s marketing and distribution head. “It had some impact, but it was more of the impact overall on reviews. I think people are becoming more vocal on these types of issues. I haven’t worked on many large-scale action movies that have a female lead, so I wish it had been embraced more.”

In limited release, Focus Features’ The Zookeeper’s Wife opened to a strong $3.3 million in 541 locations this weekend. Jessica Chastain stars in the film as a woman in World War II-era Warsaw who tries to save Jews during the Holocaust. Focus will expand the movie to between 800 to 1,000 theaters.

“It just struck a chord with audiences,” said Lisa Bunnell, Focus’ distribution president. “To have a female character who goes out there and puts herself on the front line just resonates. People in this country are looking for heroes.”

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