Weekend Report: ‘Secret Life of Pets’ Roars Into First

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Illumination Entertainment officially cemented itself as a major name in animation, with their latest film The Secret Life of Pets taking the highest opening ever for an original animated film. Thanks to its strong marketing campaign and appealing premise, the film opened to a phenomenal $103.1 million. That’s way higher than last years Inside Out and only around $12 million lower than Minions.

It’s really hard to overstate just how impressive this debut is. Even with the marketing, the premise of talking animals is usually not one that can lead to such a monstrous debut. Disney’s Zootopia had zero competition and ended up $28 million lower in its opening weekend. Granted, that was a February release as opposed to July, but it gives an indication of how credible Illumination is as a brand.

In fact, the only ones not celebrating this release are Sony Pictures. Next week, they have the highly controversial Ghostbusters set to open, and with a big chunk of the family audience taken out, it’s looking like Pets will be able to maintain first place next weekend.

Also opening was wedding comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, which took in a solid $16 million. That’s notably above the $10-$12 million expectations going into the weekend, but still isn’t a great start for a film that cost $33 million. For comparisons sake, Dirty Grandpa opened with around $11 million, while Neighbors 2 took in $21 million. Overall, this is a fine start for the R rated comedy, which should be able to pull in over $40 million by the end of its run.

Surprisingly, second place didn’t go to Finding Dory this weekend. Instead, The Legend of Tarzan held surprisingly well after its breakout 4th of July weekend, down just 47% to $20.6 million. That brings it up to $80 million in just two weeks, and should be able to top the $100 million mark without breaking a sweat. At this point, it seems likely that the film winds up with over $110 million, making it one of the biggest surprise hits of the year.

Don’t feel too bad for Finding Dory, however, as the film managed to top fellow Disney release Captain America: Civil War to become the highest grossing 2016 release to date.

The Purge: Election Year took an unsurprisingly sharp fall, down 63% to $11 million. Believe it or not, that’s actualy the best hold yet for any film in the franchise. That’s especially surprising consdering it seemed like the Fourth of July weekend would attract extra attention. The first film fell over 70% in its second weekend, but that was mostly due to the very poor reception and word of mouth. By the third film, however, it became pretty clear what it was going to be, and audiences seemed to respond accordingly. With $58 million in just two weeks, it looks like Election Year will be able to pass the original film, and could even top the $71 million total of Anarchy. Don’t be surprised if a fourth Purge film gets greenlit any day now.

The final release from last weekend was The BFG, which failed to save face in its second week of release. Suffering a 60% drop, the film took in just $7.6 million. That’s less than half of what The Legend of Tarzan has made with the same amount of time in theaters, and about 2/3’s of what The Purge Election Year has made, despite costing fourteen times as much to produce.

In the limited release market, the only noteworthy opening was Captain Fantastic with a so-so $98K from four theaters. Given the strong reviews and appealing premise, it seemed like this really had the potential to break out, but a $24K per theater average for a film like this isn’t anything to write home about. It should be expanding in the next few weeks, but don’t expect it to get into more than 200-300 theaters at the most.

Action comedy Central Intelligence was able to top the century mark this weekend, bringing its new total to $108 million. Considering its still in sixth place, it should be able to wind up with around $120-$130 million by the end of its run. Speaking of which, The Conjuring 2 is just about to hit that same number, with a total of $99.3 million after 5 weeks of release.

 

 

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Weekend Report: ‘Dory’ Repeats, ‘Tarzan’ Exceeds

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Over a very crowded Indpenendence Day weekend, both The Legend of Tarzan and The Purge: Election Year surpassed expectations, both opening over $30 million. Additionally, Finding Dory had yet another strong hold as it gets closer and closer to $400 million. On top of that, Swiss Army Man and Our Kind of Traitor both opened well in limited release. The only disappointing result was The BFG, which marks Disney’s third misfire in 2016.

Finding Dory retained first for the weekend, though not by nearly as much as expected. The film would up just $3 million ahead of The Legend of Tarzan with $41 million. After the 4th, it should be past the $380 million mark, and it’s only a matter of time until the film surpasses $500 million, easily making it the highest grossing film of the summer.

In second place, The Legend of Tarzan surpassed expectations in a big way with a surprisingly strong $38 million opening. Adding in the Holiday, and it could top $45 million. That’s an incredibly strong rebut for a film that basically had flop written all over it from the very beginning. It’s not a great start for sure, as the film carries a very hefty $180 million price tag, but this is definitely one of the films that I never would’ve guessed would even get close to the century mark. It’s not a guarantee that Tarzan hits $100 million, but if it can, that’s a great result for Warner brothers.

In third, The Purge Election Year actually wound up more than $10 million ahead of Disney’s The BFG, despite only carrying a $10 million budget. Thanks to strong marketing and the political tie in (including the not so subtle ‘Keep America Great’ tagline) the film was able to seem more relevant than ever, and wound up hugely surpassing expectations. The only bad news is that due to the tie in with the Holiday weekend and the fact that it dipped nearly 36% on Saturday, Election Year is likely to burn out very quickly. It’s likely that it will wind up with around $65 million total, or just around what the original Purge made, but considering it was estimated to open in the low $20 million range a few weeks ago, this is a big win.

In fourth, The BFG flopped with just $19 million. Considering it had the Disney branding, Steven Spielberg directing, and a $140 million budget, that’s very disappointing. What it likely came down to was that the trailers simply didn’t offer much of a story, instead focusing on the whimsical fairy tale aspect over any sort of legitimate plot. Not to mention, The Legend of Tarzan definitely had the more action-packed appeal that summer moviegoers look for. Opening on the same weekend was definitely a bad move, but it seemed for sure like The BFG could take on Tarzan. Ultimately, the film could approach $60 million domestically, but probably no more than that.

Even with the added bonus of the holiday weekend, Independence Day: Resurgence plummeted 60% to just $16.5 million in its second weekend. As of now the film is up to just $72 million, and its going to be a tough road to $100 million from here.

Just outside of the top 10, Swiss Army Man pulled in an impressive $1.4 million from 636 theaters. That’s more than triple what Green Room pulled in from over 100 more theaters, which is strange given that the films seemed to have similar appeal. However, A24 did a good job at marketing Swiss Army Man as more of a standard wide release, rather than an ultraviolent niche arthouse flick. Word of mouth seems strong so far, which could lead Swiss Army Man to pull in over $4 million. Compare that to last weekends The Neon Demon, which opened with just $589K and fell nearly 80% in its second weekend. Granted, Swiss Army Man was much more widely appealing, but it is still interesting to compare.

Also in limited release, Our Kind of Traitor opened with an impressive $1 million from just 373 theaters. The film was given essentially zero marketing (I follow the film industry to a fault and I hadn’t even heard of it before Thursday) and is typically the kind of limited release that pulls in under $1K per theater average. However, for some reason or another, this film ended up doing decent business.

 

Weekend Forecast: Can ‘Finding Dory’ Retain First over Crowded 4th of July?

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Between holdovers Finding Dory and Independence Day: Resurgence and newcomers The Legend of TarzanThe Purge: Election Year and The BFG, it’s going to be a very busy weekend at the box office.

Unless something drastic happens, it looks like Finding Dory is set to easily take first once again over the holiday weekend. Well, technically it isn’t the holiday, as the 4th happens to fall on a Monday this year. Typically, the releases for this week will open on the Wednesday before the Holiday, but because of this unusual circumstance, they’re simply opening on a normal Friday. That means all the new releases will probably open a bit lower than normal but have above average results on the 4th. As a result, it would make more sense to compare this weekend with Memorial Day than usual 4th of July releases.

With direct competition from The BFG (which Disney strangely set for just 2 weeks after Dory) it’s undoubtedly going to get a bit cannibalized. Still, it should wind up with at least $35 million for the weekend, and closer to $45 million over the four day weekend.

The Purge: Election Year marks the third installment in the very successful Purge franchise, which started off with a major surprise back in 2013. The original Purge cost just $3 million to produce, but opened to nearly $35 million in its opening weekend alone. That was one of the biggest surprise hits in years, and instantaneously a franchise was born. However, the film received poor word of mouth and ended up being absurdly front loaded, making nearly 53% of its total from opening weekend alone. Regardless, an $89 million worldwide total for a film that cost a fraction of that is undoubtedly a success. The Purge: Anarchy was debatably more successful. Despite opening lower, word of mouth led it to hold much better and wind up out grossing its predecessor by a solid $7 million. Despite the increased political angle and ramped up chaos in its marketing, it’s still going to have a hard time overcoming the “yet another Purge movie” mantra. As a result, lower grosses are inevitable. Look for The Purge: Election Year to wind up with around $25 million over the holiday.

Two big budget live action fairy tale adaptations hit theaters this weekend, but neither of them look like they’re going to be successful. The BFG will likely top The Legend of Tarzan thanks to its Steven Spielberg and Disney brand recognition, which should get some family audiences in the door. The Legend of Tarzan looks more like last years uber flop Pan than Disney’s infinitely more successful Jungle Book adaptation, and its box office results will reflect that. With a $140 million price tag for The BFG and a $180 million tag for The Legend of Tarzan, it looks like a double feature flop for the weekend.

Also opening is A24’s Swiss Army Man in 636 theaters. The film has relied primarily on internet hype and buzz, which has turned out to be much cheaper and more effective for the kinds of films that A24 releases. While it certainly has gotten a fair amount of attention, it doesn’t seem like something that will end up being a hit with general audiences. Green Room was debatably more hyped, but only opened with around $400K from 777 theaters. Don’t be surprised if Swiss Army Man ends up even lower than that thanks to its bizarre talking corpse premise.

Bar for Success

The Purge: Election Year is in good shape if it can hit $25 million over the four day weekend. The Legend of Tarzan and The BFG both carry massive price tags, and as a result really need to hit $40 million each over the holiday weekend, though that’s seeming less and less likely.

Predictions

(4 Day Weekend)

  1. Finding Dory – $48M
  2. The Purge: Election Year – $29.5M
  3. Independence Day: Resurgence – $21M
  4. The BFG – $19M
  5. The Legend of Tarzan – $17M

Swiss Army Man – $300K