'Finding Dory' Set to Break the Animated Opening Weekend Record
Saturday AM Update: With Friday estimates in, it's no question Finding Dory will soon hold the animated opening weekend record, it will only be a question of By how much?. With an estimated $54.9 million on Friday the film has already claimed the largest single day for an animated feature, topping the previous record of $47 million set by current animated opening record holder Shrek the Third.

At this point the studio is estimating an opening anywhere from a conservative $130 million weekend up to $145 million, which matches rival studio estimates and soars well beyond the $121.6 million animated opening record, not to mention the Pixar opening record of $110.3 million set by Toy Story 3 back in 2010.

Taking second place on Friday, Central Intelligence pulled in an estimated $13 million, which is right on track for an opening around $33-35 million. The film scored a strong "A-" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Beyond the two newcomers we're seeing some larger drops than expected for last weekend's new releases with The Conjuring 2 bringing in an estimated $5.4 million, a 67% from last Friday heading toward a weekend around $16-17 million. Now You See Me 2 brought in an estimated $2.8 million and isn't looking as if it will top $10 million for the weekend and Warcraft brought in an estimated $1.9 million and is looking at a weekend that might not cross $6 million signaling a more than 75% drop. It will be in a race with Fifty Shades of Grey (73.9%) for the second largest second weekend drop for a film playing in over 3,000 theaters. 2009's Friday the 13th holds the record with an 80.4% drop and Warcraft isn't looking to fall that hard.

You can check out the complete chart of Friday estimates here and we'll be back tomorrow with a complete wrap-up of the weekend.

Friday AM Update: Thursday night was a good night for Finding Dory, which hauled in $9.2 million, a record Thursday preview number for an animated film. Minions held the previous record with $6.2 million before opening with $115.7 million just last year, the second highest opening for an animated film behind 2007's Shrek the Third ($121.6m). At this point it's looking like the record is in the bag.

Warner Bros' Central Intelligence had a strong Thursday night showing, bringing in $1.835 million from screenings that started at 7PM. That's better than both Ride Along ($1.26m) and Ride Along 2 ($1.06m) with the best comparison being last year's Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell flick Get Hard, which brought in $1.8 million from Thursday night previews on its way toward a $33.8 million opening.

We'll have Friday estimates for you tomorrow morning, our weekend preview and predictions can be found below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS: Six weeks into Summer 2016 and it has been over a month since the domestic box office last saw a $100+ million opener, but that trend stops this weekend. Disney and Pixar's Finding Dory is looking to not only put a little jolt into the 2016 summer box office, it's also targeting a new opening weekend record for an animated feature. Also looking to make an impact this weekend is the new Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart comedy Central Intelligence while last weekend's top film, The Conjuring 2, looks to deliver a solid second weekend after a strong, $40+ million opening.

To set the stage, 2007's Shrek the Third currently holds the record for the largest opening weekend for an animated film with $121.6 million. Second belongs to 2015's Minions at $115.7 million. For Pixar the largest opening weekend belongs to 2010's Toy Story 3, which opened with $110.3 million, eventually going on to become the third largest animated film domestically of all-time. These are just a few of the numbers Finding Dory faces, arriving thirteen years after Finding Nemo won over audiences and critics in 2003. Speaking of critics, Dory already has them in her corner with a 95% rating on RottenTomatoes, a couple of points below Inside Out's 98%, which delivered a $90.4 million opening over the same weekend last June.

Inside Out, however, didn't have the luxury of being a Pixar sequel. All four of the sequels the animation house has released have seen a bump from the prior release. For the Cars franchise the sequel saw a 10% opening weekend bump from the original; Monsters University saw a 31.7% bump from the original; Toy Story 2 saw a 96.9% bump from the original (following its five-day limited release and excluding its first two days of wide release) and Toy Story 3 saw a 92.2% bump over Toy Story 2's opening weekend.

Taking those results into consideration, here's how Finding Dory's opening weekend would look should it see comparable bumps based on Finding Nemo's $70.2 million opening back in 2003:

  • Based on the Cars 2 10% bump: $77.28 million
  • Based on the Toy Story 2 96.9% bump: $138.35 million
  • Based on the Toy Story 3 92.2% bump: $135 million
  • Based on the Monsters University 31.7% bump: $92.5 million

Given Nemo is far more beloved than Cars, and probably Monsters, Inc. for many, it's easy to expect an opening larger than those two comps suggest. The $111 million average of all four looks like a good baseline while the Toy Story numbers look like sound numbers for a ceiling. This gives us a wide range for the weekend anywhere from $111-139 million and Disney isn't holding back when it comes to making the film available for would be audiences.

Dory is set to open in 4,305 theaters in the US and Canada, making this the widest Pixar opening ever. This is also four more theaters than Minions opened in and only 54 fewer than Shrek Forever After, which remains the widest animated release of all-time. The total number of theaters includes 3,200+ 3D locations, 100 IMAX, and 425 premium large format screens with preview screenings set to begin Thursday evening at 7pm. Minions currently holds the Thursday preview record for an animated film with $6.2 million and last year Inside Out brought in $3.7 million for a Pixar record (not including the $4 million Toy Story 3 brought in from midnight screenings).

With such a large number of theaters and the tendency for Pixar films to outperform their predecessors, a $110 million opening is a very safe bet while a record-breaking opening greater than Shrek the Third's $121.6 million seems incredibly likely.

Set for a second place finish will be the weekend's other newcomer, Central Intelligence. The action comedy brings together Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, two of the hardest working stars in the industry. Hart, in particular, has found success as of late while pairing with fellow name stars. In 2014 he co-starred with Ice Cube in Ride Along, which delivered a $41.5 million opening, eventually grossing just shy of $135 million domestically. A year later he starred alongside Will Ferrell in Get Hard, which opened with $33.8 million and resulted in $90 million domestically and earlier this year Ride Along 2 opened with $35.2 million and was, again, another $90 million domestic earner.

By comparison, Johnson's feature film success has largely been found as a supporting member of the Fast and Furious team as well as energizing a couple sequels—G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island—despite not starring in the original films. It wasn't until last year's San Andreas that he found himself the lone leading male in a bona fide, standalone blockbuster as it went on to open with $54.5 million, resulting in just shy of $475 million worldwide. Looking into the future, Johnson's stock is very much on the rise, if not at peak level, as he lends his voice to Disney's Moana later this year, will continue starring in the Fast and Furious franchise, star in the Baywatch film adaptation, the Jumanji remake and in WB's Shazam!

Central Intelligence is opening in 3,508 theaters, which is several more than both Ride Along films opened in, more than Daddy's Home and on par with Melissa McCarthy's Spy, which opened in early June last year with $29 million. Spy, being an R-rated comedy sets what seems like a good basement expectation for the PG-13-rated Central Intelligence, while an opening closer to the $11,100 per theater average for Ride Along 2 seems a good ceiling. This gives us an opening range from $30-39 million with Mojo expecting something a bit over the $34.5 million middle ground.

Elsewhere in the top five, look for The Conjuring 2 to hold on well after last weekend's first place finish, bringing in around $21 million this weekend followed by Now You See Me 2, bringing in $12-14 million this weekend. Meanwhile, fifth place is looking like a battle between last weekend's new opener, Warcraft, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, now in its third weekend.

Warcraft is looking at a steep drop after its $24.1 million opening. A drop greater than 60% seems all but guaranteed, but are we looking at a drop as steep as Fantastic Four's 68.2% or Doom's 72.7%? Things don't necessarily look quite that bleak, but upon close examination of the film's day-to-day performance on IMDb it's not exactly a pretty picture.

Outside of the top ten, it looks as if Captain America: Civil War will be crossing the $400 million mark domestically this weekend, becoming the fourth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to do so.

In limited release, Dimension is delivering the Eli Roth-produced horror film Clown into 100 theaters. Additionally, Roadside's Genius expands to 131 theaters (+115) and Sony Classics' Maggie's Plan will expand to 335 (+24).

This weekend's forecast is directly below.

  • Finding Dory (4,305 theaters) - $124.85 M
  • Central Intelligence (3,508 theaters) - $35.43 M
  • The Conjuring 2 (3,356 theaters) - $21.82 M
  • Now You See Me 2 (3,232 theaters) - $13.66 M
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (3,086 theaters) - $8.56 M
  • Warcraft (3,406 theaters) - $8.22 M
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (2,632 theaters) - $6.15 M
  • Me Before You (2,645 theaters) - $5.06 M
  • The Angry Birds Movie (2,021 theaters) - $3.6 M
  • Alice Through the Looking Glass (1,880 theaters) - $2.88 M

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