Finding Dory swings past Tarzan and dwarfs the BFG’s big-budget debut

Pixar film has third straight week at the top of the box office as big-budget rivals about colonialism in Africa and a creature who bottles dreams fall flat

The Pixar sequel Finding Dory led the US box office for the third straight weekend, dwarfing The Legend of Tarzan and Steven Spielbergs Roald Dahl adaption The BFG, both big-budget debuts that had hoped to dominate the 4 July holiday.

But modest enthusiasm for the high-profile new releases left the weekend to Dory again, which came in No1 with $41.9m, according to studio estimates on Sunday. Disney expects the film to make about $50m over the four-day holiday weekend. It has grossed $538.2m globally in three weeks.

Tarzan came the closest to dethroning Dory with $38.1m. While that total was better than expected, it was far from chest-thumping for a movie that cost Warner Bros $180m to make. Critics largely panned the David Yates-directed film, staring Alexander Skarsgard as the King of the Jungle and Margot Robbie as Jane. But audiences gave it a respectable A-minus CinemaScore.

Were in a much better place today than we thought we were going to be, said Jeff Goldstein, head of distribution for Warner Bros. Were positively looking forward. Friday came in much stronger than we thought. Yesterday was much stronger than we thought.

The horror sequel The Purge: Election Year opened solidly with $30.9m, in line with previous Purge installments where crime in America is legal for 12 hours every year. Given that the Universal release, produced by Blumhouse Productions, cost a mere $10m to make, it was the most lucrative opening of the week.

The continued success of Dory, however, bit into the similarly family-friendly The BFG, which debuted weakly with $19.6m. The Spielberg film, starring Mark Rylance as the titular giant, cost about $140m to make. Reviews were largely good but not glowing. Despite a red-carpet premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Spielbergs first film for Disney didnt click with audiences.

Its frustrating when theres a disconnect between the critical response, the consumer response and ultimately the box office, said Dave Hollis, distribution head for Disney. But weve got every reason to be hopeful for the midweek business ahead, every reason to be hopeful for a nice long run. And weve only opened in two international markets: Australia and Russia.

The weekends tailor-made option, Independence Day: Resurgence, had hoped to open big last week and play through the holiday weekend. Instead, the 20th Century Fox release bombed and dropped steeply in its second week, sliding 60% to $16.5m in fifth place.

The diverse slate of releases didnt produce a runaway hit, but overall business was up in theaters from recent July 4th weekends, partially since the holiday fell on a Monday this year.

Considering the roller-coaster year weve been having, this was a solid Fourth of July, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. In terms of the cumulative numbers, it was a really good showing, though individual films may have had their challenges.

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