Saban's Power Rangers is morphin' into a bigger-than-expected player at the North American box office, where it could gross $37 million-$40 million for the weekend despite fierce competition from holdover Beauty and the Beast, according to early Friday returns.
Power Rangers, from Saban and Lionsgate, is projected to gross $13.5 million or more on Friday, including a healthy $3.6 million in Thursday night previews. The teen-friendly film cost $100 million to make so it will need to do strong business both domestically and overseas.
Disney's Beauty and the Beast looks to remain a monster in its second weekend with $80 million or more in North America alone. Globally, Beauty is crossing the $500 million mark today.
Rated PG-13, Power Rangers is directed by Dean Israelite and follows five teens (Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G) in a small town who discover artifacts that allow them to morph into crime-fighting heroes called The Power Rangers. They are tasked with learning to use their new skills in order to save their town from destruction by a power-hungry villain (Elizabeth Banks). Bryan Cranston also stars in the film based on the hit TV series that first hit the small screen in the '90s. The filmmakers wanted the new movie to be more edgy, so intentionally sought a PG-13 rating.
The news is mixed for the weekend's two other new films, Sony's space horror-thriller Life and Warner Bros.' CHIPS.
Life, starring Jack Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds, is projected to gross $5 million on Friday, including $800,000 in previews, for a $14 million-plus weekend. At that pace, the movie, targeting adults, would place No. 4 behind Beauty, Power Rangers and holdover Kong: Skull Island.
Premiering at the SXSW Film Festival, Life follows a group of scientists on the International Space Station that discover a rapidly evolving life form that threatens the crew and all life on Earth. The Skydance and Sony project was directed by Daniel Espinosa, and could enjoy solid legs thanks to strong reviews.
Power Rangers isn't the only new film playing on nostalgia.
Warner Bros.' CHIPS, an R-rated take on the buddy-cop TV series about two California Highway Patrol officers that debuted in the late 1970s, is also opening nationwide. The film is off to a poor start for a projected $6.5 million-$7 million weekend. Dax Shepard both directs and stars with Michael Pena in the R-rated action-comedy. CHIPS, which cost $25 million to make, is pacing to gross $2.5 million on Friday, including $500,000 in previews.
March 24, 12:40 p.m. Updated with revised weekend projections.