'Black Panther' purrs as 'A Wrinkle in Time' still flops


Los Angeles (AFP)

Digging in its claws, "Black Panther" clung to its domestic box office lead for a fifth straight week, taking $26.7 million as Disney's other marquee release "A Wrinkle in Time" crashed and burned, data showed Monday.

The 18th release in Marvel's Cinematic Universe of superhero movies has earned $605 million in the US and Canada, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations, and is the first film since "Avatar" (2009) to chalk up five consecutive top spots.

Starring Chadwick Boseman as the king of a utopian African country, "Black Panther" is days away from overtaking another Marvel film, "The Avengers," as the all-time top-grossing superhero film in North America.

If the executives at Disney-owned Marvel are punching the air, their colleagues at another of the entertainment giant's divisions, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, have little to cheer.

Perhaps the biggest story of the weekend was the disappointing performance of "A Wrinkle in Time," which fell two places to fourth in its second week, with a woeful $16.3 million -- a 50 percent drop.

The story of a girl's search through time and space for her missing father -- starring Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine -- has been a critical and commercial flop.

With a reported $250 million spent on production and marketing, the movie will need to gross at least $400 million worldwide to turn a profit, according to Forbes magazine.

But Oscar-nominated Ava Duvernay's seventh feature-length release is languishing around $72 million, with largely scathing reviews.

Influential trade weekly The Hollywood Reporter, which was among scores of outlets giving the movie the thumbs down, described it as "arbitrary rather than organic and, in the end, uninteresting."

"A Wrinkle in Time" was shunted out of the top three by new Warner Bros. release "Tomb Raider," with Swedish actress Alicia Vikander reprising the role of fearless adventurer Lara Croft, made famous in the early 2000s by Angelina Jolie.

The reboot, co-starring Dominic West and Kristin Scott Thomas, netted $23.6 million.

In something of a surprise, third place went to a low-budget, faith-based drama "I Can Only Imagine," which amassed $17.1 million -- the biggest net ever for a film from Roadside Attractions.

Made for a modest $7 million, the movie stars J. Michael Finley as the lead singer of a popular Christian band. Dennis Quaid and Cloris Leachman also star.

In fifth place was new Fox release "Love, Simon," at $11.8 million. The film stars Nick Robinson in what would be a classic love story -- except that it is the first romantic comedy from a mainstream studio to be told from a gay teen's perspective.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

"Game Night" ($5.6 million)

"Peter Rabbit" ($5.2 million)

"Strangers: Prey at Night" ($4.7 million)

"Red Sparrow" ($4.5 million)

"Death Wish" ($3.4 million)