Box Office: ‘Finding Dory’ Heads for Third Straight Victory as ‘The BFG,’ ‘Tarzan’ Stumble

Finding Dory
Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

Finding Dory” is swimming toward its third straight victory at the U.S. box office during the four-day holiday weekend with $50 million-plus, topping “The Purge: Election Year,” “The BFG” and “The Legend of Tarzan,” early estimates showed Friday.

The third “Purge” film and “Tarzan” are battling for the second slot with preliminary forecasts for both in a wide range between $30 million and $37 million, while “The BFG” is heading for a disappointing $25 million.

Friday estimates showed that the opening day of Universal-Blumhouse’s “The Purge: Election Year” would earn between $12 million to $14 million — with “Dory” taking in about the same amount on its 15th day of of release.

By the end of business on Monday, “Dory” will finish the weekend with more than $380 million domestically in 18 days, trailing only “Captain America: Civil War” among 2016 titles.

“The Purge” sequel, playing at 2,796 sites, is going to be another money-maker for Universal with a price tag of only $10 million. The original “The Purge” grossed $64 million in the U.S. in 2013 and “The Purge: Anarchy” reeled in $72 million the following year.

The films take place in a future America in which all crime, including murder, is legal for one night a year. “The Purge: Election Year” stars Elizabeth Mitchell as a presidential candidate whose platform includes eliminating The Purge. Frank Grillo returns as anti-Purge bodyguard.

Warner Bros.’ “Tarzan” generated early Friday estimates ranging from $9 million to $12 million at 3,561 sites. The latest version of the Edgar Rice Burroughs story, starring Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie, may match forecasts, which had called for about $35 million over the four days.

The pic, co-produced with Village Roadshow, carries a hefty $180 million budget and will require strong performances overseas in order to make it into the black. Warner Bros. is opening “The Legend of Tarzan” in 19 international markets this weekend, including South Korea and Russia. Reviews have been largely negative with a 34% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The BFG” is also underperforming forecasts, which had projected an opening in the $30 million range. Friday’s debut day looked likely to hit between $6 million and $8 million. The Roald Dahl adaptation has received plenty of affection from critics with a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, thanks to Mark Rylance’s motion-capture work as a giant who befriends an orphan girl.

But “The BFG” will likely struggle to break even, given its high-priced $140 million budget, funded by Amblin Partners, Disney and Walden Media.

Fox’s second weekend of “Independence Day: Resurgence” looks likely to finish in fifth with about $20 million this weekend, following its $41 million launch. The tentpole was the latest in a long line of sequels that have delivered less than stellar results this summer, including “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”

The recent slump has resulted in the 2016 summer season lagging its 2015 counterpart by more than 5.5% at $1.86 billion as of Monday, according to comScore. The decline has been so pronounced that the year-to-date box office — which had surged during the first quarter — is now in a virtual tie with last year’s halfway total of $5.57 billion.

“As another group of new films step up to the summer box office plate, a crowded marketplace gets even more crowded as moviegoers are offered a ton of choices as the industry anxiously awaits the next breakout hit of which there have been precious few this summer,” said Paul Degarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore.

“This summer lineup needs to kick it into high gear to right the ship and get things on track,” he added. “It all comes down to the product and when a holdover film like ‘Dory’ can hold off newcomers for three straight weeks, that is an indication that audiences are collectively holding back their hard-earned dollars and waiting for the next big thing and we need that next big thing in a hurry.”

Dergarabedian said there are still plenty of potential successes on the horizon, such as Universal’s “The Secret Life of Pets,” which opens July 8, and “Jason Bourne,” and Warner’s “Suicide Squad,” to energize this summer before it ends.

The top Fourth of July weekend came three years ago when “Despicable Me 2” opened with $83.5 million and led the way to a $230 million total for the July 3-5 frame.

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  1. allan says:

    Maybe the BFG is NFG.

  2. therealeverton says:

    “But “The BFG” will likely struggle to break even”

    I don’t think so, it’s a beloved story around the world and /I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t do very well everywhere else.

    • Ronnie says:

      Well prepare to be amazed.

      • therealeverton says:

        All things are possible, but t remains extremely unlikely that will happen here. The book is massive, respected and very, very well known. Plus it comes out after the football is done and schools break up.

  3. Jeremy says:

    This will sound crazy, but I think the title “The BFG” is actually hurting sales as well. I’ve asked a handful of people what they all thought of the name and everyone was either confused by it, or bluntly said that the term “Big F*%#ing Deal” immediately came to mind. Not exactly what you wanna hear for a family themed movie.

  4. John says:

    I saw “Purge Election Year” Thursdays night at the 10 PM show, theater was 70% packed. The movie was very well made, better than the 1st and 2nd “Purge”, plot was predictable, but the pacing was perfect. There were 5 relay escapes, from Senator’s residence, to the Deli, to the Crips neighborhood, to the underground Anti NFFA, then the Church. The action and intensity were well balanced, with a little bit of humor for just the right amount of comic relief (the Crips whistle was the highlight). This movie franchise proves you don’t need fancy special effects or $100 million budget to draw movie audiences to the theaters.

  5. Jim K says:

    The BFG, Big Friendly Giant, should do very well, fantasy films usually rock and this one takes you to Giant Land! It will do well the 4th of July Weekend and very good internationally I would imagine!!

  6. Bill.B. says:

    Even though it’s not enough, Tarzan is bringing in more money than I expected. Yeah for another sequel failing. I am so sick of them.

  7. Chris says:

    Good numbers for the Purge, horrible for Tarzan and BFG

  8. harry georgatos says:

    TARZAN has terrible execution and no sense of fun and intrigue. This could have worked if it had the sensibility and craftsmanship of classic Indy Spielberg films but fails in writing and obvious computer drawings that don’t cut it. Should never have been green-lit in this modern day hi-tech world.

    • me says:

      Since when where any of the Tarzan books “fun”.

      • harry georgatos says:

        Rotten approval on Rotten Tomatoes with a film that seems like a broken mess, and the film lacks an epic sense of adventure. Set-pieces that seem like they’re going through the motions without any true conviction.

  9. Ben says:

    Tarzan is by far the biggest problem of the weekend box office, $180 million cost, plus marketing, and terrible reviews. It was a terrible green light from the start, not sure what these guys are thinking throwing that much money at such a terrible idea. The might be bailed out a tiny bit by Asia, although the dollar recovery from there is so small, but it sure looks like Asia loves terrible American movies.

    • Jpe says:

      They have better taste than American audiences. “Find Dorry” is our big hit? Puh-leeze! If it is not a CGI kiddie-fest, Americans stay home.

      • Kevin says:

        Finding Dory also did better with critics. The theme and characters arguably did more for the movie than the CGI. Kids and parents alike are more familiar with and appreciative of the Finding… franchise.

        Common sense says that any bold new kids movie coming out now is bound to suffer.

  10. EricJ says:

    I think at this point, I’m not alone in asking, Variety, did Spielberg run over YOUR FLIPPIN’ DOG??

    How can we have a “flop box-office” on 3pm EST, 12pm PST Friday afternoon? Saturday, maybe, but we’re literally writing tomorrow’s headlines on industry buzz, speculation, the voodoo of “Digital tracking”, and the fact that not every movie gets an “early opening” on Thursday night for fans to pilgrimage to like “Purge: Election Year” did.
    Would you please have the courtesy to let a point actually -happen- in the real world before you try to prove it?

    • me says:

      Don’t forget that all the “journalists” at Variety are on average 23 years old. So they have no use for someone like Spielberg that actually makes good movies. If it doesn’t make a gazillion dollars on its first Friday, it’s a flop.

      I believe I actually saw one article on here that tried to lump Captain America: Civil War in with the other “sequels” that flopped this year.

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