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'Independence Day', 'Shallows' & 'Free State of Jones' Must Contend with 'Finding Dory'

by Brad Brevet
 

 
June 23, 2016

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: As expected, Finding Dory is set to have a monster second weekend. The film pulled in an estimated $23.2 million on Friday, heading toward a $74-76 million second weekend, and a dramatic first place finish over newcomer Independence Day: Resurgence.

Resurgence, which opened in 4,068 theaters this weekend and pulled in an estimated $16.8 million (including $4 million from Thursday night screenings) is on its way to an opening around $41-44 million, a poor opening given the film's $165 million budget. The film scored a "B" CinemaScore.

By contrast, Sony's The Shallows pulled in an estimated $6.85 million on Friday, heading toward an impressive, $17 million opening weekend, matching the film's production budget. The film earned a "B+" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Finally, STX's Free State of Jones took in an estimated $2.65 million on Friday heading toward an opening around $7.5-8 million, well below the low-teens debut the studio was hoping for. While STX's exposure was limited, the bigger story is to focus on the result of this adult-targeted drama, which failed to capture the attention of audiences. Is it the fact films such as this are better suited for an awards season release? Was it the reviews? The film pulled in an "A-" CinemaScore, but won't be able to take advantage of what could be positive word of mouth as a result of such a lackluster debut.

You can browse the complete Friday estimates right here and we'll be back tomorrow with a complete wrap up of the weekend.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Thursday evening results for the weekend's new releases are rolling in and topping the list is Fox's Independence Day: Resurgence with $4 million from approximately 3,200 locations. The number includes the double-bill screenings of the first Independence Day along with screenings of the sequel, with the first screenings of Resurgence taking place at 8PM.

As for comparisons, the immediate title that jumps out due to the amount of time between sequels is 2010's Tron Legacy, which brought in $3.6 million on Thursday night before opening with $44 million. Other films in that range include titles mentioned below in our weekend preview—World War Z, Pacific Rim and Prometheus—all of which brought in $3.6 million on Thursday night while opening with $66.4 million, $37.2 million and $51 million respectively. Of course, while we don't have theater counts for all of the titles above, Prometheus did bring in its $3.6 million from only 1,368 theaters, nearly 2,000 fewer than Resurgence.

Meanwhile, Sony's The Shallows delivered $1.325 million from 2,465 theaters beginning at 7PM on Thursday night, a number comparable to the $1.4 million the Poltergeist remake delivered last May before delivering a $9.3 million Friday and $22.6 million opening. Another comparison might be 2006's Snakes on a Plane, which brought in $1.4 million from Thursday/midnight showings before opening with $13.8 million.

Finally, STX's Free State of Jones brought in $365,000, a number that is a bit too low to draw much of a comparison. That said, other adult dramas within that range include Get On Up, which brought in $371k before opening with $13.5 million and Triple 9 brought in $335k on Thursday night before opening with $6.1 million. One possible strong comparison may be The Finest Hours, which brought in $375k on Thursday night and opened with $10.2 million, but, again, these are lower end numbers making it hard to make comparisons with too much significance.

The weekend preview and forecast follows, we'll update this article again with Friday estimates on Saturday morning and then deliver a complete weekend wrap up on Sunday morning.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: Summer 2016 is heating up after last week's massive opening for Disney and Pixar's Finding Dory and its impressive day-to-day performance ever since. Hoping to add some fuel to the box office fire, this weekend's crop of new releases are led by Independence Day: Resurgence, the sequel to the blockbuster hit of Summer 1996.

Also opening this weekend, STX will target adult audiences with Free State of Jones, Blake Lively must survive a killer shark in The Shallows and Broad Green is delivering Nicolas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon into just over 780 theaters. It's a crowded marketplace with a little something for everybody.

Quelling some of the suspense, the battle for box office supremacy this weekend might not be much of a battle at all. Pixar's forgetful fish should handily take down the alien invaders as Finding Dory is looking at a $70+ million second weekend while Fox's Independence Day sequel carries a big budget, but is looking at a domestic opening unworthy of such a lofty spend.

Since its record-breaking, $135 million opening weekend, Finding Dory has found itself in rare company. The film scored the fifth largest non-holiday Monday of all-time, fourth largest non-opening Tuesday and a top ten non-opening Wednesday. As such, never mind comparing to animated films alone, this puts Dory in the company of films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World and The Dark Knight. As a result, Dory will be topping $200 million domestically by end of day today (6/23) making it one of the fastest films to ever hit that mark.

As for this coming weekend, a 44% drop for Dory would deliver a $75.6 million second weekend and at this point that is beginning to look like a basement number. Of course, Toy Story 3 dropped 46.2% in its second weekend and Minions dipped 57.4%, but Dory's daily numbers suggest a stronger weekend hold. In fact, comparing daily performances up through Wednesday, the very worst Dory is looking to drop is 42.6% if you compare to Minions. A drop anywhere from 25-40% is what you're looking at compared to Inside Out, Monsters University and Toy Story 3 giving us a weekend range of anywhere from $80-100 million. While that's a rather wide range, these are big numbers, and in an effort to tighten the range a bit we're expecting a second weekend anywhere from $78-90 million*. Should it land in that range we're looking at an top five, all-time second weekend.

As for Independence Day: Resurgence, the 20-years-later, sci-fi sequel carries a reported budget of $165 million into a packed weekend. Fox isn't holding back when it comes to theaters as the film invades 4,067 theaters, which includes 3,242 3-D locations, 386 IMAX theaters and 450 premium large format (PLF). Heading into the weekend the studio is hoping for a $50 million opening, which would put it near the $54.5 million opening for Men in Black III and the $51 million opening for Prometheus. Both comparisons make sense considering their franchise roots and the extended amount of time between prior installments. Of course, 20 years for Independence Day is a lifetime compared to the ten years separating Men in Black from its previous installment and while 15 years separated Prometheus from Alien: Resurrection, the Alien vs Predator films at least kept the franchise in the social consciousness.

Whether this means a $50+ million weekend is what should be expected is tough to say. Given the fact the film received the green light with a budget that big, an opening closer to $80+ million is probably what "should" be expected, but this isn't necessarily a sequel of that sort. This isn't the Jurassic Park or Star Wars franchise and as much as fans may love Jeff Goldblum he isn't bringing audiences to theaters the way the return of Will Smith would have. This is a film selling the fact it's a sequel and it has giant special effects, effects that have become a dime a dozen nowadays which leaves one to wonder "What is it that makes Independence Day: Resurgence special?"

Upon evaluating all factors, including the film's performance on IMDb leading up to release compared to titles such as Godzilla, World War Z and Pacific Rim, a weekend anywhere from $40-55 million seems like a good range for high-low expectations. Mojo will be going in the middle with our forecast, expecting a weekend right around $48 million.

Hopefully working in the film's favor is its release this weekend on 21,700-23,000 screens in 60 international territories including seven of the top ten markets including South Korea, Australia, Brazil, Russia, UK, Mexico and China. After the result Warcraft saw internationally, compared to its domestic performance, it will be interesting to see how Independence Day plays out, though it will certainly have a much better domestic performance than the video game adaptation has seen.

Next we come to terror on the water. Originally slated to hit theaters next Wednesday, Sony moved The Shallows up a few days to open this weekend. The move could easily be looked at as not only a signal the film is tracking well, but that rival studios sense an opportunity due to perceived lack of interest in Independence Day. The Blake Lively starrer has generated solid buzz ever since its first trailer was released and has gone on to generate over 5.1 million views on Sony's YouTube page alone, with the second receiving over 8.1 million views after releasing just last month. The studio is expecting an opening around $7 million, a number that would seem to be on the very low end of true expectations.

A safe bet is to expect an opening around $11-12 million with the likelihood to pop higher. One comparison that suggests a stronger opening is the 2009 release of Drag Me to Hell, which is also a female-driven, PG-13 horror that delivered a $15.8 million opening. Another comparison suggesting $10 million is the lowest this one is likely to open is last year's The Gallows, which delivered $9.8 million solely on marketing alone as that film's 18% rating on RottenTomatoes pales in comparison to the 77% The Shallows is currently carrying.

Next up is STX's Free State of Jones, which is opening in just over 2,800 theaters and hoping to generate an opening in the low teens. Early reviews haven't necessarily been kind with it currently holding a 32% rating on RottenTomatoes with 41 reviews counted. Also not working in the film's favor is the R-rating coupled with a 139 minute running time, the latter of which limits the number of showings that can take place. While the studio has its eyes on an opening over $10 million it's tough to find enough evidence supporting an opening that high.

The weekend's final new release we'll focus on is Nicolas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon, which Broad Green will release in 783 theaters. After premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in May the film has received a mix of reviews pretty much straight down the middle, but this isn't exactly a review-driven film, this is a filmmaker-driven film. Refn fans will likely come out in support of the new release, but it probably won't be enough to generate a top ten finish, though it could be close. Expect an opening anywhere from $1.9-2.2 million.

In limited release, Well Go will bring Johnnie To's Three to 17 theaters; A24 will be releasing Swiss Army Man into three theaters; IFC will release Todd Solondz's Wiener-Dog in two theaters; and Sony Classics will be releasing Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words into two theaters.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Finding Dory (4,305 theaters) - $81 M
  • Independence Day: Resurgence (4,068 theaters) - $48.41 M
  • Central Intelligence (3,508 theaters) - $18.5 M
  • The Shallows (2,962 theaters) - $12.5 M
  • Free State of Jones (2,815 theaters) - $9.29 M
  • The Conjuring 2 (3,033 theaters) - $6.45 M
  • Now You See Me 2 (2,745 theaters) - $4.31 M
  • Warcraft (1,942 theaters) - $2.75 M
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (1,679 theaters) - $2.55 M
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (1,947 theaters) - $2.42 M

* Finding Dory comparisons are based on comparing daily results to the day-to-day performances of the films mentioned and how Dory will perform if it follows similar day-to-day results.

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.



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