LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Disney's Beauty and the Beast continued its blockbuster ways this weekend, dominating North American movie screens with a three-day take of US$88.3 million (S$123.27 million), according to an estimate from the specialised Exhibitor Relations.
In just its second week, the film's cumulative North American take of US$317 million is the best ever for a March release, according to the Variety website, helping propel domestic box offices for March past US$1 billion, the most ever for the month.
The movie, starring Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame as Belle and Dan Stevens from the Downton Abbey series as the Beast, has shown drawing power usually more typical of a superhero blockbuster than of PG-rated family fare.
But the latest superhero film, Lionsgate's rebooted Power Rangers, had a strong opening weekend with US$40.5 million in sales, coming in second in North America and defying critics, who had called it a needless addition to a market saturated by comic book characters.
In an excoriating review in Britain's Daily Telegraph, critic Robbie Collin said the movie's climax appeared to have been "shot by the Hunchback of Notre Dame and edited by a monkey wearing oven gloves." Lionsgate may wish to keep that monkey on staff; the film is already well on its way to recovering the US$105 million cost of the film.
Rangers features Dacre Montgomery, RJ Cyler, Naomi Scott, Becky G and Ludi Lin as high schoolers who use their superpowers to battle the nefarious Rita Repulsa, played by Elizabeth Banks.
Coming third in weekend revenues was Warner Brothers' Kong: Skull Island, with a US$14.4 million take in its third week. The film, starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman and Brie Larson, tells the story of a group of explorers on a mysterious island that proves to be the frightening domain of the mighty ape.
In fourth spot was the Sony film Life, with an opening-weekend take of US$12.6 million. The movie, which has received mostly positive reviews, features Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson as astronauts on the International Space Station facing a menacing otherworldly life form.
In fifth was Logan, earning US$10.1 million in its fourth week out. The Fox production stars Hugh Jackman - in what is said to be his last appearance as the Wolverine character - helping a young girl, played by Dafne Keen, who has claws of her own.
Rounding out the top 10 are:
Get Out (US$8.7 million)
Chips (US$7.6 million)
The Shack (US$3.8 million)
The Lego Batman Movie (US$2 million)
The Belko Experiment (US$1.8 million)