What was supposed to be a holiday weekend box office battle between two big-budget tentpoles quickly flamed out as two studio films flopped, a micro-budget horror movie did better than expected and Finding Dory looked for its third straight win over the sluggish July 4 frame.
Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s The Legend of Tarzan did slightly better than expected with a $38.1 million three-day total and an estimated $43-$44 million for the full holiday weekend, according to Deadline. That’s somewhat better than the low-$30 million range the David Yates-directed film had been expected to do, but with a budget of $180 million before marketing costs, the film needs to pick up serious slack overseas if Warners and its financing partners are going to break even. Tarzan sits at just 35% on ratings aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, but moviegoers liked it better, giving it an A- CinemaScore.
Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg’s The BFG bombed spectacularly, taking in an estimated $19.6 million over three days and $23.6 million for the four-day extended frame. That’s an awful result for Disney and Amblin Partners, which put up $140 million to make the film before marketing costs. It’s not exactly clear what went wrong with BFG, as it boasts an A-list director in Spielberg and a rich story in an adaptation of one of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s books. Whatever the reason, The BFG is now one of Spielberg’s most disappointing openings to date. What must make the result extra grating for Disney is that moviegoers and critics both gave the film positive marks.
It wasn’t all bad news at the July 4 box office, though, as Universal/Blumhouse/Platinum Dunes’ The Purge: Election Year bested its modest expectations with an estimated $34 million over the four-day weekend. This is the third consecutive victory in the franchise for Blumhouse, a production company which specializes in micro-budget films and spent just $10 million on Election Year. The film stars Elizabeth Mitchell as a U.S. senator who wants to eliminate the annual “purge night,” when all crime becomes legal for 12 hours. James DeMonaco returned to direct the third installment.
Nothing could catch up to Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory, which is expected to top the box office for a third straight week with a $41.9 million three-day and a $50.5 million four-day take. According to Deadline, the film is on track to overtake Toy Story 3 as the highest-grossing domestic film in Pixar history next week.
As for the holdovers, Independence Day: Resurgence continued its flameout with a 60% drop for an estimated $20.1 million four-day to land in fifth place; Dwayne Johnson-Kevin Hart-starrer Central Intelligence dipped 32% to come in sixth with a $15 million four-day; and Sony’s small-budget shark thriller The Shallows snagged seventh with an estimated $10.7 million over the four-day weekend, bringing its two-week total to $37 million, an impressive result for a film that cost just $17 million to make.
Free State of Jones, The Conjuring 2 and Now You See Me 2 are expected to round out the weekend’s top ten.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum