Finding Dory continued to float at the top of the box office this weekend, claiming the eighth largest second weekend spot ever!

Matthew's prediction of the new Disney+Pixar animated film bringing in $70-80 million this week was spot on as it grossed $72.9 million in its weekend gross. Worldwide, Dory is now up to $398 million and it’s already the 13th highest grossing animated film of all time. When comparing its revenue in the first ten days, it has beat out Toy Story 3 and Shrek 2 which are in the top five for animated films before 1980. Suffice it to say, Dory just keeps swimming!

Unless it hits rough waters, Finding Dory, will ride the current to become the top animated film! It helps that Dory and Nemo have been popular among children (and adults) since Finding Nemo's debut in 2003. But I believe that it has been the story and strong emotional connection to the characters that has made this film such a success so far! 

Now let’s take a look at another sequel that just release this weekend. In 1996 the original Independence Day opened with $50 million. How did Independence Day: Resurgence do, twenty years later? It landed at spot two but … it grossed only $41 million this time. On top of that, unfortunately, Resurgence was made on a budget nearly twice that of the original’s, meaning Resurgence is kinda drowning, hard. This weekend it made back less than a quarter of it's production budget domestically, and perhaps more people will see it during the Independence Day holiday weekend, but poor reviews calling the film “cheesy” aren’t making that prospect look too hopeful. 

But before we despair for the universe, let’s consider how Resurgence performed internationally. This weekend foreign sales totaled $99.5 million for the opening weekend, meaning that over 70% of Resurgence earnings came from the international box office. It's biggest income came from China, with $38 million, in fact! It seems a bit odd that China would be watching a film about America's Independence Day, right? Actually, that has nothing to do with why it was so popular. 

Looking at the top American films in China, there seems to be a niche for fast paced action films. Furious 7Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War are among the top ten for opening weekends in China. More so, it seems that 20th Century Fox was quite strategic in casting a number of Chinese actors as integral characters.  As mentioned before in this series, it is predicted that China will surpass North American Box Office sales by the end of 2017 so this was a smart move by Fox. You can bet that this will continue be a trend as the Chinese box office continues to grow and overtake the exhibition industry.

The Shallows, a shark survival horror film starring Blake Lively landed in spot four this weekend, opening to the very surprising report of $16.8 million in domestic ticket sales. This broke our prediction - which had the film only claiming $12 million of the weekend's box office total cum - and it most likely outperformed everyone else's expectations as well. This is likely due to the positive reviews on social media the film received. Some reviews compared this to the classic 1975 Universal film, Jaws and clever marketers also promoted trailers on television during Shark Week on Discovery Channel (thewrap.com). And what with a budget of only $17 million, this is quite the success story that Sony executives are most likely cheering over today.

Matthew McConaughey’s Free State of Jones, an American war film set during the turbulent times of the Civil War came in at spot 6 opening weekend, with only $7.6 million. This is not good, seeing as its budget was $50 million and it hasn't opened internationally yet. Making this a far cry from making back 50% of its budget opening weekend and leaving quite an uphill battle it'll now face moving into its second weekend. In fact this is one of McConaughey’s lowest performing films and it is criticized for being poorly structured. The Neon Demon also did worse than anyone expected, grossing only $.6 million and starting at spot 15. Critics complain about weak characters and plot which left many people from enjoying the horror film.

And these flops allowed Finding Dory to stand out all the more this weekend. Now, let’s push pause for a moment and take out our calculators, adding up the gross of all the new releases in the top ten. Independence Day: Resurgence ($41 million) + The Shallows ($16.8 million) + Free State of Jones ($4.6 million) all brought in only a domestic cum of $62.4 million in ticket sales. That means the total of these three new releases this weekend were still bested by Finding Dory's $73 million - in its second weekend! 

For audience members, it seems Finding Dory was the clear choice, exaggerating the difference between Dory's strong story and the weak plots of Independence Day and Free State of Jones.   

Shifting focus, looking ahead to next weekend comes The BFG, The Legend of Tarzan, and The Purge: Election Year. The first two in the Purge Franchise grossed $34 million and $30 million respectively. I’m expecting this one to drop, as sequels tend to do in general and come in about $25 million. Spielberg’s BFG and Tarzan are more difficult to speculate. The long weekend will help but negative reviews are going to push these films down next weekend. It will be a close race but I predict The Legend of Tarzan will come in around $30 million and The BFG will come in around $25 million.

I expect Finding Dory to sink by 50% next week but that would still leave it at the top of the box office with a cool $36.5 million. I see Independence Day slipping about 50% as well, falling under all the new wide releases into spot 5. 

So my predictions for this coming weekend are as follows:

  1. Finding Dory
  2. Purge: Election Year
  3. Legend of Tarzan
  4. The BFG
  5. Independence Day: Resurgence

Come on back next week to find out how all the films fared at the box office as Andrea Volpp reviews the ups and downs of 4th of July weekend!

-Alan Warner

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