‘Finding Dory’ Keeps Holiday Box Office Bright; ‘The BFG’ Fizzles

Finding Dory” is swimming into history over the Independence Day holiday with $50.2 million at the four-day box office.

Pixar-Disney’s sequel won the frame handily over three new releases, led by “The Legend of Tarzan” with $45.6 million and followed by Universal’s “The Purge: Election Year” with $34.8 million and Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG” with a disappointing $22.3 million for Disney.

Finding Dory” has now taken in $380.5 million in its first 18 days — just $300,000 short of  matching the entire run of its 2003 predecessor “Finding Nemo,” 25th highest on the list of all-time domestic grossers.

“Dory” is showing plenty of staying power, declining less than 42% in its third weekend. It will face serious competition from next weekend’s launch of Universal-Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets,” but it should be able to to hit three more box office milestones shortly: topping Disney/Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” as the top domestic performer of 2016 at $405.6 million; and eclipsing “The Lion King” at $422.8 million as Disney’s highest-grossing animated film.

“Dory” is currently $60 million behind DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek 2,” which holds the title of top animated film of all time at $441.2 million.

The Legend of Tarzan” is turning in a respectable performance that’s about $10 million better than what had been forecast prior to the weekend. It generated an A- Cinemascore that indicates the tentpole, starring Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie, may have some staying power in coming weeks.

But “Tarzan” carries a massive $180 million budget, so the film will have to perform strongly in international markets to make a profit. “The Legend of Tarzan” pulled in $19.3 million at 6,900 screens in from 19 markets, led by by South Korea with $4 million, and will open in the U.K., France, Australia and Mexico this weekend.

By contrast, “The BFG” has already emerged as flop with little hope of profitability despite strong critical support. Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book carries a pricey $140 million budget and will need to perform strongly in foreign markets to keep the film from being a disaster.

“The BFG,” starring Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill, opened in Australia and Russia this weekend as the start of a gradual rollout into major markets in coming weeks. The film was financed by Disney, Reliance and Walden Media.

In comparison, “The Purge: Election Year” is already minting money for Universal and Blumhouse, given its skimpy $10 million price tag. Its two previous installments, “The Purge” and “The Purge: Anarchy,” debuted to $34.1 million and $29.8 million, respectively in 2013 and 2014.

James DeMonaco, who directed the other two “Purge” films, returned as did star Frank Grillo and Platinum Dunes co-produced. The sequel follows a presidential candidate (Elizabeth Mitchell) campaigning to end  the Purge, a 12-hour period in which all crime is legal.

“The Purge: Election Year” was also nicely positioned to take advantage of interest in the current presidential election. It led the box office on Friday with $14.5 million, edging “Tarzan” with $14 million and “Dory” with $13.4 million.

In its second weekend of release, Fox’s “Independence Day: Resurgence” finished fifth with $20.2 million for the four days. The follow-up to the 1996 blockbuster alien invasion thriller has made $76.4 million domestically.

New Line-Universal’s third weekend of Dwayne Johnson-Kevin Hart buddy comedy “Central Intelligence” followed in sixth with $15 million, lifting the 18-day total to $94.4 million. Sony’s second weekend of “The Shallows” came in seventh with $10.4 million, followed by STX Entertainment’s second frame of “Free State of Jones” with $5.1 million, New Line’s fourth session of “The Conjuring 2” with $4.5 million and Lionsgate’s fourth frame of “Now You See Me 2” with $3.6 million.

A24’s expansion of offbeat comedy “Swiss Army Man,” starring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano, turned in a respectable $1.7 million weekend at 636 locations.

Thanks to the strong performance by “Dory” and three new titles coming into the market, the total for the weekend would up being one of the top five Fourth of July holiday weekends, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.

“An incredible mix of product in a very crowded marketplace created a cutthroat level of competition that served some and hurt others as the newbies jumped into the fray with the little fish that is a big winner, ‘Tarzan,’ ‘The Purge’ and even ‘Swiss Army Man’ enjoyed their successes while ‘The BFG’ will count on social media powered word of mouth and ongoing positive critical response to encourage moviegoers to discover the movie on their own,” he added.

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