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Bossy baby hopes to unseat Disney's Beast for box office supremacy

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Bossy baby hopes to unseat Disney's Beast for box office supremacy

Alex Baldwin might be the boss in DreamWorks Animation's "The Boss Baby," but he will have to put up quite a tantrum to overcome Walt Disney Co.'s latest live-action juggernaut at the box office.

Debuting March 31, "Boss Baby," puts an executive-style twist on the familiar tale of an infant taking over a family's attention. Most forecasters expect it will come up short of "Beauty and the Beast," which is on its way to surpass $1 billion in global box office gross receipts as it enters its third weekend. Also garnering attention among the March 31 new releases is Japanese animation reboot "Ghost in the Shell," starring Scarlett Johansson.

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"Ghost in the Shell"
Source: Paramount Pictures

Projections put "Beauty and the Beast" in the $40-million range for its third weekend, perhaps as high as $47.5 million by BoxOffice.com's reckoning. Comparatively, BoxOffice.com expects "Boss Baby" to come in at just $32.0 million. Variety forecasts a flat $30 million opening for the infantile comedy, and TheWrap is also looking for something in the low $30 million range.

Looking at family-oriented fare with some similarities to "Boss Baby" in theme and tone, "Turbo" and "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" each opened to less than $35 million on production budgets over $130 million, and both left theaters in the black. "The Croods," was more of a breakout, opening to $43.6 million and ending its theatrical run with a 43.6% profit margin.

However, critics so far like "Boss Baby" far less than some comparable earlier films. "Mr. Peabody and Sherman," for example, garnered an 80% "Certified Fresh" rating on RottenTomatoes.com, while "Boss Baby" was running at a 34% "rotten" rating, as of 1:30 p.m. ET March 30. But also among the compared titles, "Home," saw a 47% "rotten" score, and it left theaters with a 31.9% profit margin. "Home" also opened to $52.1 million, much higher than projections for "Boss Baby."

"Ghost in the Shell," the March 31 weekend's other major wide release comes from Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, which received some criticism for casting Johansson instead of sourcing stars from the film's Asian roots. BoxOffice.com forecasts a $28 million opening for the new film, while Variety and TheWrap are less bullish, with each pegging the debut weekend at $25 million.

Looking at comparable films, "Elysium," opened to $29.8 million on a $116.7 million production budget and left theaters with a 13.9% margin. "Ghost in the Shell" cost $110 million. A group of five similar films compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence had generally positive results, with an average profit margin of 24.5% on an average opening gross of $34.7 million.

Whatever audiences choose to favor, critics liked "Ghost in the Shell" more than "Boss Baby." The science fiction title was running at a 61% "fresh" rating as of about 1:30 p.m. ET on March 30.

Two other films will open wide over the weekend, "The Zookeeper's Wife" and "Step Sisters," but neither is expected to compete at the top of box offices. Forecasters declined to offer a prediction for either, which means BoxOffice.com forecasters expect a result below "The Shack's" $2.6 million, the lowest forecast for the weekend.

"The Zookeeper's Wife" was running at a 57% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while "Step Sisters" had yet to be rated.

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