Weekend Box Office (July 15 - 17, 2016)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND For the fifth straight week, an animated film topped the North American box office as Universal's new blockbuster The Secret Life of Pets led all films in its sophomore frame with an estimated $50.6M. Down 52% from its massive debut, the PG-rated comedy has now banked a stellar $203.2M and is well on its way past the triple century mark. With summer playability, Pets even has a chance at finishing near the $341M of Disney's spring smash Zootopia.

The much-hyped reboot of Ghostbusters opened in second place but posted good results with an estimated $46M weekend from 3,963 theaters for a sturdy $11,607 average. It was the best opening of 2016 for a live-action comedy, then again most comedies do not carry budgets of $144M. The effects-driven pic headlined by Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig saw new career highs for each in a lead role.

Reviews were generally upbeat for the Sony adventure and audiences found it to be good, though not great. The CinemaScore was a B+. The film was met with plenty of criticism both when the project was announced and again when trailers debuted as many moviegoers did not like the idea of a new Ghostbusters with four women leading the way instead of four men.

But looking at how the box office has performed this year, the performance was encouraging. Of the top ten opening weekends of 2016, only two are not cartoons or comic book movies. Those would be The Jungle Book at $103.3M and now Ghostbusters. In fact, breaking $40M on opening weekend has been very difficult all year for live-action movies outside of super hero flicks. Ten films did it at this point last year versus seven this year plus Jungle Book which is nearly all computer generated.

Ghostbusters enjoyed only a 5% dip from Friday to Saturday which is better than what similar films see at this time of year. Business with kids kicked in despite intense competition for that age group this summer. Midweek playability could allow Ghostbusters to finish with a domestic gross that comes close to its production cost. International success would be needed to keep the franchise going with future installments. Ghostbusters rolled out overseas with $19.1M from a few major markets including $6.1M over seven days in the UK. Seven more top territories open across July and August.

Reaching a milestone this weekend was the adventure film The Legend of Tarzan which joined the century club after a weekend take of an estimated $11.1M pushing the total to $103.1M. For Warner Bros. it is its third straight $100M+ grosser after The Conjuring 2 and Central Intelligence which comes as good news for the studio after so many misfires over the past 12 months.

2016's biggest domestic hit followed in fourth place. Pixar's all-time top grosser Finding Dory fell 47% in its fifth lap to an estimated $11M pushing the cume to a sturdy $445.5M allowing it to break the twelve-year-old record for highest grossing animated film of all-time. Shrek 2 from DreamWorks Animation had held that milestone since 2004. Dory now is at number 11 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters while worldwide has vaulted to $721.7M.

The raunchy comedy Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates failed to post a good sophomore hold dropping 55% to an estimated $7.5M giving Fox just $31.3M to date. A $45-50M final may result. On the other hand, The Purge: Election Year is about to become the top-grossing installment in the three-film series. Universal saw an estimated $6.1M this weekend, down 51%, for a new sum of $71M which is more than the $64.5M of The Purge and it's only days away from beating the $72M of The Purge: Anarchy.

The top-grossing live-action comedy of the year so far, Central Intelligence, followed with an estimated $5.3M giving Warner Bros. $117.5M to date. Bryan Cranston's drug thriller The Infiltrator had a modest opening in eighth place with an estimated $5.3M from 1,600 locations for a $3,304 average. Cume for Broad Green is $6.7M since the Wednesday start.

The Steven Spielberg dud The BFG took ninth with an estimated $3.7M, off 52%, putting Disney at a troubling $47.3M. A finish well below the $77.6M of the director's The Adventures of Tintin is assured. Independence Day: Resurgence rounded out the top ten tumbling 56% to an estimated $3.5M. After its fourth weekend, the sci-fi sequel still could not get over the $100M mark and sits at $98.5M which is less than what its predecessor grossed in its first full week of play twenty years ago.

Woody Allen's 1930s-set comedy Cafe Society opened to strong results in platform play grossing an estimated $355,000 from only five houses in New York and Los Angeles for a sparkling $71,000 average marking the best opening weekend average of 2016. That's a big step up from his last film Irrational Man which averaged $25,045 in its limited debut on its way to a disappointing $4M final. It was the last of seven straight Allen films released by Sony Classics as Cafe is being handled by Lionsgate and Amazon Studios. Next weekend, the well-reviewed film expands to 11 more markets before going nationwide on July 29 as it targets mature adults in a summer dominated by cartoons and super heroes.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $150.1M which was down 16% from last year when Ant-Man opened at number one with $57.2M; but up 16% from 2014 when Dawn of the Planet of the Apes remained in the top spot with $36.3M.

Compared to projections, both Ghostbusters and The Infiltrator opened very close to my respective forecasts of $47M and $6M.

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Watch the trailer for Star Trek Beyond.

Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Star Trek Beyond, Ice Age: Collision Course, and Lights Out all open.


Last Updated: July 17, 2016 at 4:00PM ET

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