‘Finding Dory’ Swimming for Record $140 Million Opening

Finding Dory
Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

Giving a much-needed jolt to the summer box office, “Finding Dory” is dominating moviegoing with a record-breaking $140 million opening weekend, estimates showed Saturday.

Disney/Pixar’s animated sequel, playing in 4,305 North American theaters, grossed a stunning $55 million on its opening day Friday.

Finding Dory” will finish the frame with four times the total of action-comedy “Central Intelligence,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, which is launching with a solid $34 million at 3,508 sites this weekend.

“Dory” will demolish the nine-year-old record for best domestic animated opening, set by “Shrek the Third” in 2007 with $121.6 million. “Minions” was the second largest at $115.7 million, followed by Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” with $110 million.

At $140 million, “Dory” will rank as the 17th largest domestic opener of all time and the third largest of 2016. Marvel/Disney’s “Captain America: Civil War” had the year’s highest-grossing launch so far with $179 million, the fifth-largest debut of all time.

Recent estimates had placed the opening weekend for “Dory,” with Ellen DeGeneres voicing the forgetful tropical fish, in the $115 million range. So its apparent over-performance is a tonic to the movie business — which has slumped 18 percent during the summer season in the wake of  expensive tentpoles such as “Warcraft,” “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” delivering drab domestic returns.

Early indications show that Disney has a blockbuster that may perform as well as 2003’s original “Finding Nemo,” the fish tale of a father looking for his son, which grossed $936.7 million globally and won the Academy Award for best animated feature. “Finding Dory” will double the $70 million opening weekend of “Finding Nemo.”

The sequel includes original director Andrew Stanton with DeGeneres returning to voice Dory along with Albert Brooks voicing her friend Marlin. Stanton’s co-director Angus MacLane is making his filmmaking debut.

The new story centers on Dory scouring the ocean in search of her long-lost parents. Disney did not provide a budget, but Pixar films typically carry price tags between $175 million and $200 million.

“Finding Dory” is enjoying a 95 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Online ticket service Fandango reported this week that “Finding Dory” had become its top pre-selling animated movie ever. DeGeneres has been celebrating the movie this week on her TV talk show with “Finding Dory Week.”

Central Intelligence” is also making a sturdy debut with a $13 million opening day on Friday. Johnson and Hart are paired for the first time, playing high school friends who have become a crack CIA agent and an accountant.

New Line is handling the release domestically and Universal will handle it internationally, with the studios co-financing the $50 million film. “Central Intelligence” reviews have been mostly positive with a 67 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

New Line’s second weekend of “The Conjuring 2” should finish a strong third with $20 million following its $40.4 million launch last weekend. The moderately priced horror sequel will finish the weekend with around $76 million domestically.

Lionsgate’s second weekend of “Now You See Me 2” is headed for a fourth-place finish with about $9 million, down 59 percent. Universal/Legendary’s “Warcraft” will follow follow in fifth with about $5.9 million — a plunge of 76 percent from its launch weekend.

By contrast, “Warcraft” has shown plenty of box office power outside the U.S. with about $280 million, including an impressive $156 million in China.

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  1. Ima Right says:

    Disney is not the family entertainment anymore and just makes mostly garbage now just like Hollyweird
    with their left wing agenda and pushing all this gay crap in almost everything now. I would only allow
    kids to watch the classic tv and movies until I’m sure anything they make now is now left wing crap.
    and since DeGenerate is a gay left wing loonie I’m sure there is some left wing crap in there somewhere.

  2. EricJ says:

    Although, let’s be honest, it’s reproducing many of the exact perfect-storm factors that made the first Nemo in June ’03 such an exec-baffling phenomenal mega-hit, causing us to later think that Cars and The Incredibles were, quote, “box-office disappointments” for not following the act:
    A catastrophic slump of high-profile action sequels, a never-fail tentpole from years back trying to reboot a new franchise with a new cast and producers, and a major superhero movie that sounded -too good- to fail, all biting the dust within weeks…
    And what did the audience all go back to see every time the fallout settled? The heartwarming Pixar movie, from the studio whose name actually guaranteed some quality care put into the script, characters and storytelling.

    Of course, that was the first time we started noticing a cause-and-effect, and that why was why the other studio execs started soiling their diapers whenever Pixar roared its name.
    (Also, the post-Rugrats bubble of corporate-channels cable 2D animateds, like Warner/CN’s Powerpuff Girls and Paramount/Nick’s Hey Arnold, was starting to pop, which is how analysts started looking for reasons why it couldn’t have really been the movies’ fault: “Is traditional animation DEAD??” Yep, that’s how it happened.)

  3. You say: “At $140 million, “Dory” will rank as the 17th largest domestic opener of all time and the second biggest of 2016”

    I know BvS was bad, but it still had a $166 million opening weekend. (Making Dory the 3rd largest this year)

    • Dave McNary says:

      We fixed, thanks, Stewart

    • Marci says:

      Yeah, but Dory apparently cost more to make than bvs. And don’t forget, Dory was also co-directed by the guy who made the biggest flop in Hollywood history- john carter.

      • EricJ says:

        That’s the second time you’ve made that joke, and Keanu Reeves’ “47 Ronin” says hi. Look it up.

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