Catapulting straight past this weekend's anticipated new releases, Pixar's sequel Finding Dory continues to dominate the US box office for the third week on the trot, dwarfing The Legend of Tarzan and decimating Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Roald Dahl classic The BFG, over the 4th of July weekend.
Despite the national holiday traditionally being one of the biggest for the movie industry, this year's suffered from expensive blockbuster releases that failed to enthuse and bank, with audiences instead flocking toward the Finding Nemo follow-up, which is en route to surpassing the highest grossing domestic Pixar movie ever, Toy Story 3. The movie hauled in $41.9 million over the weekend — the studio expects to clock $50m in total over the four-day holiday — and in its so far three-week release, has taken $538.3m globally.
Dave Hollis, distribution chief at Disney — Pixar’s parent company — confirmed:
“It’s showing no signs of slowing down. As people are weighing what to see, it stands out as the only option that’s going to entertain everyone.”
They're crushing it, basically.
The — Not So Legendary — Legend Of Tarzan
Falling in close second with a domestic weekend total of $38.1m, Warner Bros.'s jungle-swingin' adventure The Legend of Tarzan bagged more cash than expected, yet was still far off from the chest-thumping debut needed to reimburse the $180m spent on producing the picture, and the millions more on marketing.
Helmed by David Yates, the director behind several Harry Potter installments, the picture has largely been panned by critics who harshly described it as "dull" and "sluggish," lumping it with a 35 percent splatter on Rotten Tomatoes — quite a different reaction in comparison to audiences who gave the movie a respectable 74 percent, which is understandable really, considering you spend the majority of the film gazing over Alexander Skarsgård's rugged manhood.
As analysts expect an extra $10m over the rest of the holiday, the movie's resonance with foreign audiences is paramount to its success, with Jeff Goldstein — Warner Bros.'s distribution executive vice president — noting their engagement as key:
“At the end of the day we always looked at this as a bigger play internationally."
The Big Flopping Giant
On the flip side, Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Roald Dahl's dream-bottling giant was largely loved by critics, receiving solid reviews, but sadly failed to triumph come its debut. Wildly overshadowed by the other family friendly films on offer, Disney's The BFG grasped a disappointing $19.6m, placing it forth in the weekend's box office chart. And, as it cost a whopping $140m to make, its measly gross ultimately renders it a huge flop for the studio.
Yet it may not be all doom, gloom and snozzcumbers for Spielberg and stars Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill, as Disney's head of distribution, Dave Hollis, points out:
“It’s frustrating when there’s a disconnect between the critical response, the consumer response and ultimately the box office. But we’ve got every reason to be hopeful for the midweek business ahead, every reason to be hopeful for a nice long run. And we’ve only opened in two international markets: Australia and Russia.”
As Variety reports, The BFG will now rank as not only one of the biggest flops of the summer but also of Spielberg's career, this will raise questions about the director's drawing power given he's spent the previous decade catering to older audiences in historical dramas such as Lincoln.
A Solid Purge
Thankfully, it's not all bad news. Universal and Blumhouse will be laughing all the way to the bank thanks to the solid reception of their horror sequel The Purge: Election Year, which scored a tidy profit — raking in $30.9m with a $34m expected total, after spending a modest $10m on production — and landed itself in third place.
Considering the narrative follows a presidential candidate's campaign to end the Purge — a legally sanctioned night of lawless chaos — it's possible that the movie's themes struck a chord with audiences interested in the ongoing White House battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. And, in a summer where sequels such as Alice Through the Looking Glass and X-Men: Apocalypse have struggled to attract the numbers, the third installment in the Purge franchise appears to have bucked the trend!