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411’s Box Office Report: Finding Dory Threepeats, Tarzan #2

July 3, 2016 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Finding Dory

New releases took a back seat at the box office for a second weekend in a row, as Finding Dory led the way over the Fourth of July weekend. The Pixar film held onto the #1 spot for its third weekend with a $41.9 million three-day take an an estimated $50.5 million for the four-day weekend. That brings Dory up to $372.3 million domestically through Sunday and $538.3 million worldwide. The film is on track for over $440 million domestically and thus should end up being Pixar’s highest-grossing film to date (currently Toy Story 3 with $415 million). Its budget was $200 million.

Dory’s success meant that the weekend’s new releases had to settle for second to fourth place. The highest among those was Warner Bros.’ The Legend of Tarzan, which brought in $38.1 million for the weekend and an estimated $43 million for the long weekend. That’s an over-performance for a film that was estimated by most to finish with perhaps $25 million over the three-day period. The film’s low expectations came from low buzz online and advance ticket sales falling short, among other factors, but the film performed well with families who had already gone to see Dory, which helped boost its grosses. Margot Robbie’s continued rise certainly didn’t hurt, either, as she is becoming a fan favorite and is expected to help Suicide Squad do big business.

While Tarzan’s opening is stronger than expected, Warner Bros. isn’t breaking out the champagne over it. The film was incredibly expensive, with a $180 million estimated budget. That’s comparable to films like The Avengers and Batman V Superman, and a $40 million start isn’t good enough. While the critical reaction won’t help — the film sits at just 33% on Rotten Tomatoes — audience word of mouth should be strong. The film has an A- CinemaScore and an A+ from the under 18 crowd, which could help push the film’s domestic forecast to as high as $125 million. That means it will still have to do massive business overseas, but that’s not out of the question. It began a staggered international rollout this weekend and brought in $18.8 million in nineteen markets. Notably, the film managed a upcoming China opening in July despite the fact that the month is where Hollywood films usually get blacked out to give homegrown movies a chance to shine. The prospects are somewhat dicey, but it could have been much worse.

While Tarzan will struggle to break even, The Purge: Election Year won’t have a problem with it. The third film in James DeMonaco’s dystopian thriller franchise opened at $30.9 million and an estimated $34 million through Monday. That’s slightly below the first Purge’s $34.1 million start but above the $29.8 million that The Purge: Anarchy opened with in 2014 and a strong start for the modestly-budgeted movie.

The Purge was heading into a crowded market place for horror and thrillers, with The Conjuring 2 still holding on and The Shallows having done greater-than-expected business. But it still kept its head nicely above water. Critics gave it moderate reviews for its genre, with 54% on Rotten Tomatoes and a surprising 65% among the “Top Critics.” More significantly, it scored very well with audiences who gave it a B+ (compared with a B for The Purge: Anarchy and a C for the first film). Playing into the madness that is this year’s presidential election certainly didn’t hurt the film’s box office either.

At this point, Election Year should be able to do quite well. Anarchy holds the franchise-best at $72 million domestically and this one should be able to top that, with $75 million to $80 million likely. A tiny international rollout began this weekend and added $130,000 for a $31 million worldwide gross through Sunday. The film’s budget was just $10 million and it will make Universal quite the profit.

Meanwhile, The BFG was a bomb for Disney and Steven Spielberg, opening with just $19.6 million for the three-day and a four-day estimate of $23.6 million. That’s awful for an expensive film with Spielberg’s name behind it. The adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1982 book just wasn’t able to draw interest for a variety of reasons. Among them were the fact that Dahl’s book, while cherished by many children, doesn’t have the iconic stature of some of Dahl’s other books like Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.

Giants also just don’t perform well at the box office, as Bryan Singer learned in 2013 when Jack the Giant Slayer underperformed — although even that film managed a $27.2 million start. The competition didn’t help though, as Dory and Tarzan siphoned off much of the family crowd. Critics actually liked this one well enough with a 71% Rotten Tomatoes score, and audiences who did saw it generally enjoyed it with an A- CinemaScore. The film launched overseas in Russia and Australia where it managed $3.9 million for a $23.5 million worldwide start through Sunday.

Much like Tarzan, The BFG’s problem is its giant budget and it doesn’t have quite as strong prospects either domestically or overseas. It will get overrun by yet another family film next weekend in The Secret Life of Pets and probably won’t bring in more that $60 million in the US. With a production budget of $140 million and a spendy marketing campaign, this film will go down as a failure and a write-down for Disney.

With the three newcomers crowding in at the top, Independence Day: Resurgence found itself falling three spots to #5 with $16.5 million. The Independence Day sequel was down a rough 60% from its opening weekend, which would be fine if it had a Pixar or Marvel-like opening but isn’t good when it had a middling start. The film has now grossed $72.7 million domestically, but is fairly strong overseas so far with $249.7 million worldwide. It still has a ways to go before it makes back its $165 million plus marketing, but there is actually a bit of a chance this one may end up in the black.

Central Intelligence was down three spots to #6 with $12.3 million in its third weekend, a strong hold of 32%. The Dwayne Johnson/Kevin Hart action comedy is performing strongly; it has $91.8 million domestically and $122.1 million worldwide. At this point it should end its domestic run at around $120 million, a profit on a $50 million budget.

Blake Lively’s The Shallows had a solid hold in its second weekend with $9 million, down 46% from its overachieving start. The shark-themed survival thriller has brought its total to $35.3 million and is definitely set to become Lively highest-grossing film that she’s been the top star in. The movie is aiming for around $55 million to $60 million from a budget of just $17 million for a solid profit.

Free State of Jones was down to #8 in its second weekend with $4.1 million. The Matthew McConaughey-starring Civil War film was off 45% from its start, but unlike The Shallows it heavily underperformed last weekend so the hold isn’t as good news. The film has now grossed $15.2 million and should finish with around $30 million to $35 million. Civil War films don’t generally do well overseas, so its $50 million budget will be a loser for the STX Entertainment.

The Conjuring 2 brought in $3.9 million for the #9 spot in its fourth weekend, bringing its totals to $95.3 million domestically and $274.1 million worldwide. The film’s domestic total will not top the $137.4 million of the first film, but internationally it is just $2.2 million away from The Conjuring’s $180.6 million final take so that will be overcome by next weekend. The film’s a big profit for Warner Bros. from a budget of $40 million.

Now You See Me 2 closed out the top ten with $3 million in its fourth weekend. The ensemble heist film is up to $58.7 million domestically, well behind the first film’s $117.7 million domestic total, but it is doing quite well internationally with a worldwide take of $214.3 million. A final domestic gross of $70 million is still likely and it should end up turning a bit of a profit with a $90 million budget.

The total weekend take was $188.8 million, up a strong 40% from last year’s $135.3 million total. Last year’s total was led by Inside Out’s $29.8 million third weekend and Jurassic Park’s $29.2 million fourth weekend, while Terminator Genisys and Magic Mike XXL disappointed with their third and fourth-place openings.

Pixar will find itself knocked out of first place next weekend by Illumination and Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets, which is targeting a start of north of $65 million. For the adult crowd there’s the R-rated comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates with Zac Efron, Adam DeVine, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza, which should open in the low- to mid-teens.

Note: Numbers include Sunday estimates and are three-day estimates. A studio recoups 55% of a film’s grosses on average, meaning it needs to approximately double its budget to be profitable during its theatrical run.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Numbers)
1. Finding Dory – $41.9 million ($372.3 million total)
2. The Legend of Tarzan – $38.1 million ($38.1 million total)
3. The Purge: Election Year – $30.9 million ($30.9 million total)
4. The BFG – $19.6 million ($19.6 million total)
5. Independence Day: Resurgence – $16.5 million ($72.7 million total)
6. Central Intelligence – $12.3 million ($91.8 million total)
7. The Shallows – $9 million ($35.3 million total)
8. Free State of Jones – $4.1 million ($15.2 million total)
9. The Conjuring 2 – $3.9 million ($95.3 million total)
10. Now You See Me 2 – $3 million ($58.7 million total)