Weekend Box Office: Dory Floats and Tarzan Swings Over the Holiday Weekend

The fireworks at the North America box office this holiday weekend were on the mild side as for a third straight week, Disney/Pixar’s animated smash Finding Dory remained the top choice for movie goers. The family comedy topped a crowded multiplex field that included newcomers The Purge: Election Year, The Legend of Tarzan and The BFG.

Dropping 43%, Finding Dory swam its way to a solid $42 million third round on 4,305 screens, bringing its overall domestic total to $372.2 million. The film should hit the $400 million mark by the end of this upcoming week. By next weekend, it will overtake Toy Story 3 to become the highest-grossing Pixar Studios release to date. It should overtake The Lion King to become Disney’s highest-grossing animated feature within two weeks and shortly thereafter that, it will push Shrek 2 aside to become the biggest-grossing animated feature ever, pre-inflation (naturally).

The first direct challenge to Dory will arrive Friday: the much-anticipated The Secret Life of Pets. While the arrival of Pets may slow Dory down a bit, don’t expect the forgetful fish to make a fast exit from the multiplex. Repeat business and continued strong word-of-mouth should help pushing Dory’s overall domestic haul past the half-billion mark. Overseas, the film has taken in $168 million so far with many markets yet to open the hit sequel.

In second place was Warner’s The Legend of Tarzan with $38 million from 3,561 screens. The $180 million resurrection of the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ character exceeded earlier box office forecasts despite largely negative reviews from critics. Ticket buyers gave the film an “A-“ on CinemaScore, which the studio hopes may help the film over the next few weeks in regards to recouping its hefty price tag.

Universal will have no such worries about recouping its production costs on the $10 million production of The Purge: Election Year, which landed in third place. The latest chapter in the low-budget franchise cleared a big $30 million in its first three days on 2,796 screens. The $11,041 per screen average for the critically drubbed Election Year was easily the best in the top ten. That glory may be short lived, however. Business dropped a steep 36% on Saturday and is estimated to drop 26% on Sunday. With a 62% drop in sales over its first three days –and a so-so “B+” CinemaScore rating- Election Year may be a distant memory by the start of August. If only the real-life Election Year would end as quickly.

Fee-fi-fo-fum! The BFG is a Big D-U-D. Disney’s giant fantasy, the first family film directed by Steven Spielberg for The Mouse House, stumbled out of the gate this weekend with a dismal $19.6 million from 3,357 screens. On the plus side, the $140 million adaptation of the Roland Dahl novel received a 73% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the best of any film released this weekend. The solid notices failed to grab the attention of family crowds still enamored with another Disney blockbuster, Finding Dory. And with The Secret Life Of Pets just around the corner, the competition is only going to get worse.

Swan diving 60% in its second weekend was Fox’s Independence Day: Resurgence with $16.5 million from 4,091 theaters. After ten days, the unnecessary sequel has bagged a limp $72.6 million and should finish its run around the $95 million mark, less than a third of what the 1996 original earned. Foreign sales for Resurgence are a bit stronger at $172 million.

Outside the top five:

6. Central Intelligence (Warner) $12.3 million (-32%); $92 million

7. The Shallows (Sony) $9 million (-46%); $35.2 million

8. Free State of Jones (STX) $4.1 million (-45%); $12.1 million

9. The Conjuring 2 (Warner) $3.85 million (-50%); $95.2 million

10. Now You See Me 2 (Lionsgate) $2.95 million (-47%) $58.6 million

Next weekend, in addition to The Secret Life of Pets, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates opens in wide release. Pets is expected to open around the $80 million mark.


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