Power Rangers surprises at the box office

LOS ANGELES • Two attempts to turn faded television shows into box-office hits had drastically different outcomes over the weekend, as Chips crashed into a wall of critical contempt and Power Rangers pulled off one of moviedom's hardest tricks: simultaneously satisfying older fans while enticing a new generation.

But neither of those new films could hold a talking candlestick to Beauty And The Beast, which took in US$88 million (S$123 million) at North American theatres.

The Disney musical has taken in an astounding US$690 million worldwide, according to comScore, which compiles box-office data.

Power Rangers (Lionsgate) was second. It collected US$40.5 million, at the high end of pre-release analyst expectations.

Designed to resuscitate one of the top TV and toy properties of the 1990s, Power Rangers cost at least US$100 million to make and tens of millions more to market.

Billionaire mogul and political power broker Haim Saban controls the characters, hence the film's uneuphonious formal title, Saban's Power Rangers. The movie received weak reviews, a worrisome sign for five planned sequels. But attendees under 18 gave it an A-plus grade, with the rest of the audience grading it an A, according to CinemaScore, a market-research firm.

Diversity likely helped the movie. The ensemble cast includes Asian, black and Hispanic actors. One character questions her sexuality and another is autistic. Only 36 per cent of the Power Rangers audience was white, according to PostTrak.

Among other new wide-release films, Life did the best, taking in about US$12.6 million. Most critics liked the space thriller, which cost about US$58 million to make, but ticket buyers gave it only a C-plus CinemaScore grade.

The film's downer ending and snooze-fest title may have been problems. Chips, which cost Warner Bros and its financing partners about US$25 million to make, was dead on arrival. It took in US$7.8 million. Poor execution was seen as the primary reason.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2017, with the headline 'Power Rangers surprises at the box office'. Print Edition | Subscribe