In a weekend when Warner Bros’ “The Legend of Tarzan” swung higher than expected and Disney-Amblin’s “The BFG” fell short of projections, it was “Finding Dory” that reigned supreme at the box office again, taking the No. 1 spot for the third consecutive week.
The Disney-Pixar film raked in more than $50 million at the box office according to four-day weekend estimates for the U.S. and Canada, pushing its cumulative domestic earnings to almost $381 million and making it the fifth-highest-grossing North American animated release of all time, tying the total run of “Dory” predecessor “Finding Nemo.”
“Tarzan,” the latest adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1912 creation, landed in the No. 2 spot for the weekend, bringing in an estimated $45.6 million. The total may be dwarfed by the film’s $180-million production budget, but the studio has high hopes for the film’s global box office prospects and its legs at home, where good word of mouth is echoed by the film’s A-minus grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore.
“The bigger story here is really about the worldwide result,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. executive vice president of distribution. We have some really large markets yet to open up internationally, including China.”
Goldstein pointed out that younger “Tarzan” audiences enjoyed the film more. He noted the film’s story, marketing campaign and release date as key factors for the film’s continued success.
The unlikely Cinderella story of the long weekend is Universal’s “The Purge: Election Year,” the most recent film in James DeMonaco’s “Purge” series, produced by Blumhouse and Platinum Dunes. The third film in the franchise, set in a futuristic United States where crime is legal for 12 hours each year, earned $34.8 million, dwarfing its $10-million production budget.
“‘The Purge: Election Year’ is one of the few sequels that’s not family-oriented or based on a comic book that will outperform the last film in the series,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “In fact, the CinemaScore [B-plus] is better than the other two films, so audiences are satisfied coming out. It’s a success story all the way around, even here as we are in the middle of it.”
Less of a success story this weekend was the Steven Spielberg adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book “The BFG,” the story of a lonely little girl among giants. The film brought in just $22.3 million thru Monday, falling $8 million short of early weekend projections. Disney retains hope for the film’s word of mouth, in light of its A-minus CinemaScore.
“It’s a frustrating thing when the responses that you’ve had to the film, from that very first screening we had a Cannes through the great exit responses reflected by the CinemaScore, are disconnected from having the box office as big as you’d hope that it would be,” Disney distribution head Dave Hollis said.
“We hold out hope and feel good about what midweek business ought to be this coming week,” Hollis said, and he underlined the importance of the global marketplace, pointing out that the film still has yet to open in some lucrative overseas locations. “The European market will start opening in earnest two weeks from now. We’ll probably hold off on making a full judgment on how to feel about the film until after we’ve seen the balance, the marketplace open up.”
International box office remains key for studios, with films such as Universal Pictures’ “Warcraft,” the most successful video game adaptation of all time, earning just $45.9 million of its $422.1-million worldwide gross domestically.
“Finding Dory” continues to be a hit overseas, earning $34.4 million over the three-day weekend. “The BFG” earned $3.4 million in Australia and Russia.
“The Legend of Tarzan” opened in 19 markets internationally, including Russia and Korea, and made an estimated $7.1 million.
The rest of the box office top 10 included Warner Bros.’ “Central Intelligence” at No. 6. It edged toward a cumulative $95 million at the box office, making $15 million over the holiday weekend.
Columbia Pictures’ “The Shallows” brought in $10.5 million in its second weekend, followed by STX Entertainment’s “Free State of Jones” earning $5.1 million, Warner Bros.’ “The Conjuring 2” bringing in $4.6 million and Lionsgate Film’s “Now You See Me 2” earning $3.6 million.
Just missing the top 10, the Daniel Radcliffe vehicle “Swiss Army Man” from A24 had a strong showing as it expanded its screen count to 636 from 3 in its second week of release. It grossed $1.7 million for the long weekend and landed at No. 11.
Overall, the holiday weekend’s box office was up substantially over 2015, with all films earning an estimated $225 million compared with last year’s $135.4 million, an increase of about 66%.