‘Dumbo’ Flies But Doesn’t Soar

Dumbo -the latest Disney cartoon classic to become a live-action film- had a good-but-not-great start this weekend at cinemas worldwide. The loveable flying baby elephant had just enough strength to fly past a strong second weekend for Us, but not quite enough to rival recent Mouse House live-action remakes such as Beauty and the Beast or The Jungle Book.

Overall, the top ten was down eight percent from last week’s numbers but up a decent 11% over numbers from last year at this time.

Directed by Tim Burton and starring Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Danny DeVito and Michael Keaton, Dumbo flew to an estimated $45.2 million from 4,259 theaters this weekend. Dumbo’s $45 million start ranks seventh among their live-action remakes, far behind the $67.8 million scored by Cinderella four years ago and just ahead of the $33 million pocketed by 1996’s 101 Dalmatians. The opening was also far, far below the $174 million earned by Beauty and the Beast two years ago and the $103 million brought in by 2016’s The Jungle Book in its first three days.

One thing working against Dumbo from flying higher in its start at the box office were reviews. The pricey PG-rated feature received mixed-to-negative notices from critics: 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 56/100 on Metacritic. However, the movie scored better with ticket buyers, which may help nudge the film past the $100 million mark. They gave the movie an encouraging “A-“ grade on CinemaScore.

While a $100 million plus gross certainly looks good on paper, it won’t be enough to push Dumbo into the realm of profitability. With a production budget of $170 million –and at least another $100 million or more for global marketing-, the little elephant is going to have to flap his big floppy ears extra hard overseas to cover its costs.

That effort got underway this weekend as Disney launched the Burton feature in every international market possible. This translated into an okay $71 million. Dumbo’s five biggest markets outside of North America were China ($10.7 million), the United Kingdom ($7.4 million), Mexico ($7.2 million), Russia ($4.4 million) and Italy with $3.8 million.

In its second weekend on 3,743 screens, Universal’s Us slowed down 53% to scare up an estimated $33.6 million. After ten days, the Jordan Peele-directed blockbuster has pocketed a great $128.2 million. While the film will face direct competition from Paramount’s Pet Sematary remake starting on Thursday, Us should continue to play strong throughout the month of April, which should guarantee it finishes its box office run with at least $200 million. Foreign grosses for Us currently stand at $46 million.

While Dumbo is shaping up to be a Mickey misfire, the studio’s Captain Marvel is showing no signs of box office fatigue even after one month of ultra wide release. Moving down to third place this weekend, Marvel fought its way to an estimated $20 million from 3,985 theaters. Down only 40%, the Brie Larson hit has earned $353.8 million so far and is still on track to hit the $400 million mark by the time Avengers: Endgame rolls into town in a few weeks.

Internationally, Captain Marvel so far has $636.8 million in the bank. With $990.6 million overall in global ticket sales, Captain Marvel is only a few days away from becoming only the tenth superhero film to cross the billion-dollar mark.

In fourth place was Lionsgate’s Five Feet Apart with an estimated $6.25 million from 2,845 screens. Off only 27% from last week, the sleeper hit has brought in a sturdy $36 million so far and is looking to finish just past the $50 million mark. The film has also brought in $15 million from overseas markets.

Rounding out the top five was PureFlix’s Unplanned with $6.1 million from 1,059 theaters.

  1.  Wonder Park (Paramount) $4.94 million (-44%); $38 million
  2.  How To Train Your Dragon 3 (Universal) $4.23 million (-35%); $153 million
  3.  Hotel Mumbai (BST) $3.16 million; $3.28 million
  4.  A Madea Family Funeral (LGF) $2.7 million (-39%); $70 million
  5.  The Beach Bum (Neon) $1.8 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of Warner’s Shazam! and Pet Sematary.

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