By David Ng | Los Angeles Times
TWO aquatic tales—one geared for families, the other for scare-seeking teens and adults—helped to buoy the weekend box office, with Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory retaining the No. 1 spot and the shark-attack thriller The Shallows exceeding expectations in its first weekend to come in fourth.
Finding Dory was expected to finish the weekend with an estimated $73.2 million, bringing its domestic haul to $286.6 million after two weekends of release. The animated sequel to Finding Nemo has, so far, brought in $396.9 million worldwide.
Independence Day: Resurgence landed its first weekend with about $41.6 million, near the low end of estimates. Fox’s sequel to its 1996 sci-fi blockbuster cost an estimated $165 million to make and faced largely negative reviews.
But the Roland Emmerich movie could get better traction in overseas markets, including China, where it has already opened.
Fox was expecting Resurgence to earn $102 million overseas over the weekend, to bring its global haul to $143.6 million.
“I think we’ll be in good shape on the movie at the end of the day,” Chris Aronson said, president of domestic distribution at 20th Century Fox. “It’s an expensive movie, and it underperformed a little domestically, but it had a good start.”
He said the movie has been released in 70 percent of its international markets.
The original Independence Day earned about $50.2 million domestically on its opening weekend.
Reaching for sleeper status, The Shallows brought in an estimated $16.7 million on its opening weekend, beating industry expectations by about twofold.
The thriller, released by Columbia Pictures, stars Blake Lively as a surfer who comes under attack by sharks. It cost $17 million to make, according to Sony.
“It was crafted creatively to be done on a modest budget, but yet, [they] put out a story that was going to grab audiences. It had a tremendous amount of social media outreach,” Rory Bruer said, president of worldwide distribution at Sony Pictures.
The weekend’s remaining new general release was the civil war drama Free State of Jones, staring Matthew McConaughey. The STX release grossed $7.8 million to finish in fifth place.
“While we were expecting a stronger performance, we couldn’t be prouder of the film, the filmmakers or the talent involved,” a spokesman for STX said in a statement. He said the movie played strongest in the South. Central Intelligence, starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, continued to do strong business, coming in third place on its second weekend, with in an estimated $18.4 million. The Warner Bros. comedy has, so far, grossed $69.3 million domestically.
The Conjuring 2 earned about $7.7 million to finish in sixth place with a total of $86.9 million. Now You See Me 2 brought in an additional $5.7 million to bring its total to $52.1 million.
In its fifth weekend, X-Men: Apocalypse earned an estimated $2.5 million, to bring its domestic total to $151.1 million. Rounding out the top 10 were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows with about $2.4 million and Warcraft with $2.1 million.
In limited release, The Neon Demon saw muted audience interest, earning $606,594 for its opening weekend for a per-theater average of $775, according to data provided by comScore.
The Nicolas Winding Refn gorefest set in the world of Los Angeles fashion opened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival this year to divided reviews and was acquired by Amazon, which partnered with Broad Green Pictures for its domestic release.
A favorite at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Swiss Army Man earned about $114,000 in its opening limited release on three screens for a per-theater average of $38,000.
The unconventional buddy picture stars Paul Dano as a suicidal young man who encounters a flatulent corpse, played by Daniel Radcliffe.