Holdovers The Boss Baby and Beauty and the Beast are once again dominating at the weekend box office despite the entry of new family film Smurfs: The Lost Village, according to early Friday returns.
Projections show Smurfs 3 earning $3.5 million-$4.5 million on Friday for a muted opening in the $14 million-$15 million range, while Boss Baby and Beauty will battle for the top spot with $25 million or more. Box-office observers are divided as to whether Boss Baby will prevail, saying it is too early to call.
Sony is banking on Smurfs: Lost Village to reinvigorate the franchise after Smurfs 2, which opened in August 2013 to $17.5 million, topped out at $347.5 million worldwide, far less than the $563.7 million global tally for The Smurfs in summer 2011. Lost Village will have to do huge business overseas if Sony is to get its wish.
The new film centers on a mysterious map that sets Smurfette (Demi Lovato) and her friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on a race through the Forbidden Forest leading to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history. Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello and Jack McBrayer are among the voice cast. Kelly Asbury (Gnomeo & Juliet) directed.
Among the other new offerings at the North American box office, Village Roadshow and New Line's Going in Style, directed by Zach Braff and targeted older adults, is pacing slightly ahead of expectations for a possible $10 million to $12 million debut. (On Thursday night, it beat Lost Village in previews.)
Going in Style stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin as retirees who decide to rob a bank when their pensions go belly-up. The remake of the 1979 heist film hopes to have a long run, considering its target demo don't rush out to the theaters on opening weekend.
The Case for Christ, an independent film distributed by Pure Flix Films, is the weekend's third new nationwide entry. The faith-based drama looks to debut in the $4 million-$6 million range, according to early matinee returns.
Based on the book of the same name, The Case for Christ tells the story of a self-avowed atheist and journalist who sets out to disprove his wife's newfound Christian faith. The Case for Christ stars Mike Vogel, Erika Christensen, Faye Dunaway and Robert Forster.
April 7, 12:30 Updated with revised weekend projections.