The box office is poised to bounce back in a big way. Since Civil War six weekends ago, the options that have come along have not been performing very well. Finding Dory is set to bring in a serious crowd of people who grew up with Finding Nemo, which came out in 2003. Meanwhile, Kevin Hart/Dwayne Johnson comedy Central Intelligence, is adding some comedy counter-programming to the mix and bringing in people who have not had a laugh at the movies in quite some time. Here is how I predict the weekend will go down.
1. Finding Dory
This will obviously be in the lead by a large margin this weekend. The only question is if it can earn a new opening weekend record for an animated film. The nostalgia factor has been an extremely strong force in getting people out to the cinema lately. Disney has been on a roll this year. Sure, Alice Through the Looking Glass was a dud, but that is the only dud that Disney has come out with this year. Zootopia, The Jungle Book and Civil War have all earned over $330 million domestically so far, and two of those titles passed $1 billion worldwide. Finding Dory looks to join that list of strong 2016 Disney hits.
It has been 13 years since its predecessor came out and it still remains one of the most memorable films of all time, mainly because of Dory. Having the story focus on her this time around will help. Also helping is the fact that it has been receiving very strong critical reception, as most Pixar films do. The Good Dinosaur unexpectedly bombed in November of last year as it earned only $123.1 million, which is the lowest grossing Pixar film ever, and that is not even taking inflation into account. After a blemish like that on the record of a consistently powerful brand like Pixar, it ought to bounce back in a big way, especially since Finding Dory is the sequel to a film that is still universally enjoyed thirteen years later.
As to whether or not it will have an animated opening weekend record, I believe it will. The current animated opening weekend record belongs to 2007's Shrek the Third ($121.6 million) closely followed by 2015's Minions ($115.7 million). I have a feeling it will open slightly higher than Shrek the Third, but it might get hurt a little bit by Father's Day being on Sunday, the same way How to Train Your Dragon 2 did. Then again, it seemed like it was not much of a problem for Inside Out, which opened this same weekend last year. So, it looks like we will have to see how it goes. It ought to have long legs, though, because audiences are already digging it.
2. Central Intelligence
Central Intelligence is likely to come in at second place. It has been a while since audiences have had a laugh as Neighbors 2 and The Nice Guys didn't do the trick ($54 million and $33.2 million totals, respectively). The trailers have made people laugh, and not because of stupid toilet humor either like you might expect from Paul Blart or Grown Ups. It is receiving mixed early word of mouth, but better than that of the Ride Along films, which Kevin Hart also starred in (which managed to open to $41.5 million and $35.2 million, respectively). The comedic chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart should pull in audiences. An opening roughly in the vicinity of Ride Along 2 ($35.2 million) seems like a reasonable forecast.
3. The Conjuring 2
Last weekend, The Conjuring 2 opened really close to its predecessor ($41.9 million) and opened with $40.4 million. Since it was still really well liked as far as horror sequels go, it should take a bit steeper of a second weekend decline than the first (-46.9%), but not by much. It will likely end up slightly below $20 million this weekend, which would still be a strong hold for a horror sequel.
4. Now You See Me 2
Now You See Me 2 will probably face a light decline near where the first one did considering the reviews are about on par with that of the first one and since it has been performing well throughout the week. As an aside, I saw it on Tuesday. I thought it was alright, but not quite as good as the first, which I gave an A-. It was well done by everyone and the suspense and mystery of it all was still there, but it also felt like it carried on a little longer than necessary and the chemistry between the characters felt slightly tired out. Anyways, it will probably end up somewhere between $14 million and $15 million for the weekend.
Warcraft had a disappointing weekend of $24.2 million here in the US (although it is more than making up for that by cleaning up big time in foreign markets with $310.4 million as a worldwide total as of this post). It was very poorly reviewed which will make it drop by a severe amount. As an aside, I would have to agree with most of the general public. It was horrible and felt very uninspired and mindless. To be fair, I had no experience with the source material, but it still felt very forced and felt like everyone was just trying to kill screen time by jumping all over the place and making it a jumbled mess. Overall, I gave it a D+ and it is my least favorite film of the year so far. Anyways, it should almost certainly have a second weekend drop over 60%. It will likely end up earning $8 million to $9 million this weekend.
Now, here are my official predictions for the weekend:
1. Finding Dory: $125 million
2. Central Intelligence: $32.1 million
3. The Conjuring 2: $19.9 million (-51%)
4. Now You See Me 2: $14.6 million (-35%)
5. Warcraft: $8.3 million (-66%)