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Box Office: Tim Burton’s ‘Dumbo’ Lifts Off With $2.6 Million on Thursday Night

Tim Burton’s “Dumbo” has taken flight with an estimated $2.6 million in North America on Thursday night.

It’s a similar figure to the $3 million earned by “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” during Thursday previews and the $2.1 million gross for “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.”

Disney expects the live-action re-imagining of its 1941 animated movie to make around $50 million this weekend when it launches in 4,259 North American venues. Should that estimate hold, “Dumbo” will probably nab the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office over the second weekend of Jordan Peele’s horror hit “Us.”

“Dumbo” is the latest Disney live-action remake of its animated library, highlighted by “Beauty and the Beast,” which opened with $174 million and went on to gross $1.2 billion worldwide. The studio has two more such reboots coming this summer with Guy Ritchie’s “Aladdin” launching on May 24 and Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King” debuting on July 19.

“Dumbo” stars Danny DeVito as the owner of a struggling circus. He enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell), and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock. The children’s love for the sad-eyed pachyderm helps him fly. Michael Keaton stars as a shady entrepreneur, with Alan Arkin as a Wall Street tycoon and Eva Green as an aerial artist.

“Dumbo” is produced by Justin Springer, Ehren Kruger, Katterli Frauenfelder, and Derek Frey. Burton directs from a screenplay by Kruger. The fantasy-adventure, which also opens in most major international markets, carries an estimated budget of $170 million.

Burton’s biggest hit came nine years ago with Disney’s live-action remake of its animated “Alice in Wonderland,” which hauled more than $1 billion worldwide. Since then, he directed “Dark Shadows,” “Frankenweenie,” “Big Eyes,” and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” which took in nearly $300 million worldwide in 2016.

“Dumbo” has received mixed reviews from critics, earning a 52% on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman called the movie “forgettable,” saying “it transforms a gentle and miraculous tale into a routine story by weighing it down with a lot of nuts and bolts it didn’t need.”

Universal’s “Us” could have a lucrative second weekend in theaters following its stunning $71.1 million domestic opening. The title has already topped $90 million in six days, with critics praising Lupita Nyong’o for her dual performance as a mother and a blood-thirsty doppelganger. Horror movies usually have steep declines, but “Us” may earn as much as $40 million this weekend.

Disney’s fourth weekend of its blockbuster “Captain Marvel” will lead the rest of the pack in the $20 million range. Brie Larson’s turn as a superhero has outperformed expectations over the past three weeks, with $330 million in North America and $938 million worldwide. “Captain Marvel” could soon become the 38th title to gross $1 billion worldwide.

Two other movies are opening domestically this weekend with modest expectations: Pure Flix’s drama “Unplanned” at 1,059 sites and Neon’s Matthew McConaughey comedy “The Beach Bum” at 1,015 venues. “Unplanned,” starring Ashley Bratcher as a Planned Parenthood employee who becomes an anti-abortion activist, is aiming for around $3 million.

The Beach Bum” is set in the Florida Keys, with McConaughey portraying a stoner who aspires to be a literary success. It’s expected to open to $3 million. The pic, which premiered at this year’s SXSW to mixed reviews, also stars Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Zac Efron, and Jimmy Buffett.

With “Dumbo,” “Us,” and “Captain Marvel” leading the way, North American moviegoing will continue its recovery from its dismal first two months of 2019, which had resulted in a 27% decline from last year. As of March 28, that gap had been reduced to 17.5%, with total moviegoing at $2.24 billion, according to Comscore.

“Disney will bring yet another of its most beloved characters to life with ‘Dumbo,’ which will attract family audiences to the multiplex,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore. “That title and the second weekend of the horror hit ‘Us’ will continue to knock down that pesky year-to-date deficit that has dogged the industry since the beginning of the year.”

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