‘Baby Boss’ Dethrones ‘Beauty And The Beast’ At The Box Office

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – ?Boss Baby? is enjoying the view from the top.

The animated comedy bottled up a leading $49 million from 3,773 locations, edging out Disney?s ?Beauty and the Beast,? a box office juggernaut that?s dominated the multiplexes since debuting three weeks ago. ?Beauty and the Beast? added another $ $48 million to its mammoth $395.5 million domestic haul. The weekend?s other new release, Paramount?s ?Ghost in the Shell? bombed, taking in a demoralizing $19 million.

Critics were cool toward ?Boss Baby,? which centers on a cuteness standoff between babies and puppies. Alec Baldwin, in vulpine ?Glengarry Glen Ross? mode, voices a power suit-wearing infant, leading a vocal cast that includes Tobey Maguire, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, and Lisa Kudrow. DreamWorks Animation produced the film for over $100 million, with Fox distributing the picture. Heading into the weekend, ?Boss Baby? had been projected to debut to $30 million.

?The picture works because it?s a great concept and having Alec Baldwin, who is such as well known voice, voicing a baby is near genius,? said Chris Aronson, Fox?s head of domestic distribution.

Aronson said he was surprised that the reviews for the film weren?t stronger.

?I was shocked and still am,? said Aronson. ?It?s nice when you have critics and audiences aligned, but it?s painful when you don?t get it. You wonder why do audiences like it so much and the reviewers don?t??

?Ghost in the Shell,? an adaptation of a popular Japanese manga about a cyber-enhanced warrior (a be-spandexed Scarlett Johansson) who must take down a cabal of terrorist hackers, was produced in conjunction with DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment. If it wants to fight its way into the black, it will need to get a big lift from foreign crowds. To that end, the science-fiction story pulled in $40.1 million abroad from 50 foreign territories.

Paramount has gone through a punishing run at the box office, enduring costly flops such as ?Allied? and ?Ben-Hur,? while going through a series of executive shakeups that resulted in the ousters of Chairman Brad Grey and Vice-Chairman Rob Moore. It has a newly named studio chief in Jim Gianopulos, the former head of Fox?s film division, whose task it will be to bring more creative stability to the company.

?Ghost in the Shell?s? rollout was nearly subsumed by controversy over its casting and accusations that by tapping Johansson the film had engaged in ?whitewashing.? It was cited as exhibit A in a larger, industry-wide debate about studios? habits of employing white actors in Asian roles.

Lionsgate?s ?Power Rangers? and Warner Bros. and Legendary?s ?Kong: Skull Island? rounded out the top five, earning $14.5 million and $8.8 million, respectively. The Power Rangers reboot has grossed $65.1 million in two weeks of release, while the latest King Kong remake has made $147.8 million after four weeks in theaters.

In limited release, Focus Features? ?The Zookeeper?s Wife? opened to $3.3 million in 541 locations this weekend. Jessica Chastain stars in the film as a woman in World War II era Warsaw who tries to save Jews during the Holocaust.

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Trump Aides Complete North Korea Policy Review, Include Economic And Military Measures

WASHINGTON, April 2 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump?s top national security aides have completed a broad review of U.S. options aimed at countering North Korea?s nuclear and missile programs, a senior U.S. official said on Sunday.

The review, which was accelerated to have it done before Trump?s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week, includes a range of economic and military measures but leans towards new sanctions and increased pressure on Beijing to rein in its neighbor, the official said.

The list of recommendations was put together by Trump?s National Security Council on his orders and was ready for his consideration, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

It was not immediately clear if the review had reached the Republican president?s desk or how quickly he would decide on a course of action, which could be delayed by the slow pace at which the administration is filling key national security jobs.

The White House declined comment.

Trump told the Financial Times in an interview published on Sunday that the United States was prepared to respond to North Korean nuclear threats on its own if China fails to pressure Pyongyang.

Trump made clear he would he would urge China to use its influence with North Korea when he meets Xi at his Florida resort on Thursday and Friday for their first face-to-face meeting.

The review, which was led by national security adviser H.R. McMaster, proposes a multi-pronged approach aimed at tightening the screws on North Korea economically and militarily, the official said. It will be up to Trump to decide how and when to proceed, and he could also send the review back for further work, the official said.

While most details remained under wraps, senior U.S. officials told Reuters recently that options under consideration included tougher sanctions aimed at cutting North Korea off from the global financial system, which could entail ?secondary sanctions? against Chinese banks and firms that do the most business with Pyongyang.

The U.S. official said Trump may warn Xi of such moves, including efforts to beef up South Korean and Japanese anti-missile defenses ? something Beijing strongly opposes.

The Chinese have urged Washington to de-escalate tensions with Pyongyang and to find a way to restart negotiations, but U.S. officials say it would be premature to resume talks now because it would be seen as a reward to North Korea for bad behavior.

The chief U.S. concern is North Korea?s efforts to develop an intercontinental nuclear missile that could carry a nuclear warhead and be capable of hitting the United States.

Although the long-standing option of pre-emptive military strikes against North Korea is not off the table, the review gives priority to less-risky steps and ?de-emphasizes direct military action,? the official said.

Other steps that have been under consideration are escalating cyber attacks and other covert action aimed at undermining North Korea?s leadership, another U.S. source said recently.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.