July 2, 2016

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Purge” Swings Past “Tarzan” & Shrinks “BFG,” But “Dory” Outswims All


Expectations were low for the holiday weekend’s expensive new openings, and that’s proving to be accurate.  According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, it was the low-budget THE PURGE:  ELECTION YEAR (Blumhouse/Universal) that led the group on Friday with $13.4M (including $3.6M from Thursday night), better than the $13M opening day for Anarchy, the last entry in the series, which had a mid-July opening.  The Purge movies are fairly frontloaded, but the 4-day weekend will help, and Election Year should be over $30M by Sunday and around $37M by July 4th, with a US total around $75M likely.  The series hasn’t done particularly well internationally (Anarchy made only 36% of its worldwide total outside the US), but should still top $100M when all is said and done, and with low production and marketing costs, that will keep the franchise moderately profitable.

THE LEGEND OF TARZAN (Village Roadshow/RatPac/Warners) may pass Purge for the weekend, with a Friday that was just slightly behind the thriller at $13.2M ($2.6M from Thursday), and an older, less frontloaded audience.  However, even if it manages $36M by Sunday and $42M including Monday, it’s still only going to nose a $100M US total, and with production/marketing costs that will easily exceed $300M, it’s yet another would-be blockbuster that will need strong overseas performance just to break even.  It’s different from other summer disappointments like Independence Day: Resurgence, though, because the result isn’t much of a puzzle; no one could understand why Warners sank so much into rebooting such a creaky and problematic franchise in the first place.  In any case, this only increases the pressure on the upcoming Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the studio’s remaining big 2016 bets.

The prospects for Tarzan are unpromising, but they’re better than the outlook for Steven Spielberg’s THE BFG (Walden/Reliance/Disney), an outright flop with $7.2M on Friday (including about $800K from Thursday night).  Its worldwide costs come to at least $275M, and the opening US weekend may only be $22M, with $27M by Monday, which suggests an ultimate US total around $75M.  There may be more luck overseas, but it’s hard to see how even a giant will be able to get its head over the likely red ink.

As was the case last year when the bleak July 4th arrivals were Terminator: Genisys and Magic Mike XXL, the low-performing newcomers cleared the way for the 3rd weekend of a Pixar movie to take the holiday.  In this case, it’s FINDING DORY (Pixar/Disney), which should be on the way to another $50M by Monday, putting $400M in sight and shortly after that, the title of 2016’s #1 film so far.

The holiday weekend didn’t help INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (20th), which plunged 71% from its underwhelming opening day to $4.8M.  It’s only going to add $15M for the 3-day weekend and may reach $75M by Monday, with $100M as its realistic US goal and little chance of profit.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (New Line/RatPac/Universal/Warners) continues to benefit from being the only comedy around, down just 36% from last Friday to $3.6M, and with a $12M/14M weekend ahead that will bring it close to $100M.

THE SHALLOWS (Columbia/Sony) wasn’t built to last, and it fell 58% from last week’s opening day to $2.9M, still with a chance of hitting $60M in the US, which should make it mildly profitable if it performs well overseas.  FREE STATE OF JONES (H Brothers/STX) held better, down 48% from last Friday, but it started so low that it’s only headed for a $4M/5M weekend, and a lousy $25M US total.

THE CONJURING 2 (New Line/RatPac/Warners) and NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (Summit/Lionsgate) continue on their way downward, decreasing respectively 55% and 48% from last Friday, and headed for US totals of $100M and $65M.

The very odd SWISS ARMY MAN (A24) leaped into semi-wide release at 636 theatres after opening at 3 last weekend, and it’s not showing much wide appeal, with a per-theatre average that may hit $1500 for the 3-day weekend and $2K including Monday, with a 4-day total around $1.2M.

Films from major distributors are usually guaranteed a minimum 2-week run, but THE NEON DEMON (Amazon/Broad Green) didn’t have that kind of clout, and it was unloaded by almost three-quarters of its theatres, plunging to a weekend that won’t hit $200K and a quick turnaround to VOD.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."