Sunday, June 26, 2016

Fish Finish First: 'Finding Dory' Nabs #1 Spot, Hangs On

Well, it looks like Pixar swam to the top this past weekend...

Finding Dory hit #1 again with a great $72 million, leaving the aliens in the dust. Independence Day: Resurgence, I thought, would've played out like a milder version of Jurassic World: A nostalgia-fueled sequel whose predecessor is from the "golden" 90s, something everyone would flock to... I was dead wrong there! Resurgence, I suspect, opened so low - and adjusted, the original's $50 million opening weekend gross would be $97 million today! - because it looked "been there, done that". It was fresh and new back in 1996, but now? I guess it didn't matter that it was the sequel to the movie that kind of started it all, the public didn't come out in droves to see it.

The sequel to the 13-year-old animated ocean adventure was the one they came to see...

I guess the lesson of the year is... Sequels that audiences want to see will open high. I mean, a lot of us knew that from the start, but it seems the writers of the press don't know that. Or they do know that, and just want more clicks so they post a non-story to get them. Yeah, that's likely... Moving on...

Not surprising for a well-made animated family film, Finding Dory's weekend dip is only 46%. That's a little steeper than Inside Out's drop last summer, and a little better than Toy Story 3's.

The picture's now up to $286 million stateside, pacing ahead of where Shrek 2 - the current domestic animated champion - was on its second weekend - $236 million without the Memorial Day haul, $260 million with. Impressive!

The next test will be next weekend. Three new releases are coming, but none of which seem to have much potential. The Purge: Election Year is skewing an R-rated crowd, so that's out of the question, plus that's going to do decent at best - the Purge movies aren't blockbuster titans. WB's The Legend of Tarzan, which I sense little to no buzz for, looks to do meh numbers at best. The same goes Disney/Steven Spielberg's The BFG, another non-remake live-action Disney film that has a crumby marketing campaign behind it. Let's hope international numbers save that one.

For the third weekend drop, I expect something between Inside Out (43%) and Toy Story 3 (49%), certainly nothing near Monsters University (56%), which had bigger competition to face on its third weekend. I think Dory easily wins round three, it's round four that will be the real test...

The Secret Life of Pets... Now I don't believe that a new animated release cannibalizes the old one, but a good-sized drop occurs - mostly because the previous film on the block loses quite a few screens and 3D auditoriums to the new one, but then it stabilizes after that. Finding Dory is beloved, Pets will be a minor bump in the road, or maybe no bump at all. Maybe the drop will be okay that weekend. The Secret Life of Pets is sure to explode on opening weekend because Universal knows a thing or two about marketing animation, Illumination is right now a well-oiled hit-making machine, and the picture looks super-appealing to general audiences.

Either way, Finding Dory is most likely going to be well past $350 million domestically by that point. Does it still have a shot at unseating Shrek 2 and its still-gargantuan $441 million total? Worldwide the highest grossing animated film is Frozen, with $1.2 billion. Dory could very well top it, considering that the original made $867 million back in 2003 without 3D, IMAX 3D, today's sky high ticket prices, and today's bigger international market.

$72 million... $72.9 million to be exact... That's just an inch above Shrek 2's $72.1 million second-weekend haul. That record was finally beaten, too.

It's worth noting that Shrek 2 developed some serious late legs. Very rarely do films that open with over $100 million make 4x their opening weekend grosses, let alone 3x or even 2.5x! Shrek 2 came out at the right time, and was also one of the only PG-rated animated films in town that summer. It had little-to-no competition whatsoever. Audiences loved the picture too, regardless of what some of us might think of it. 12-year-old me adored it back then, and the audience I was with on opening weekend belly-laughed at pretty much every scene.

Finding Dory's attendance won't match that, because of course, inflation. Shrek 2's domestic gross adjusts to $609 million today. That was a picture that got pretty much everyone into the theater, even masses of people who don't like animation. Finding Dory is not one of those pictures, and in 2004, any good-looking computer animated movie was a must-see. Nowadays, people pick and choose. Luckily, Dory has the beloved original behind it plus other things, so it might have a shot at taking the money crown. Who knows!

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