Dory Dominates Independence Day Sequel; Shallows Surprise
By John Hamann
June 26, 2016
Independence Day: Resurgence disappoints this weekend as lightning can't be bottled twice, and Fox can't recapture the blockbuster magic the original opened to in 1996. 20th Century Fox must have felt quite confident - it was opening a year after Jurassic World tapped into moviegoer nostalgia and pushed its opening weekend beyond $200 million. The original opened on a Tuesday and had a six-day opening weekend that amounted to a powerful $96.1 million, unheard of for 1996. The original went on to have a run that didn't have a weekend drop higher than 40% until weekend 14. Fox, of course, was planning on having a repeat with the sequel. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.
Independence Day: Resurgence got started on Thursday night at previews, and despite years of build-up, even the Thursday number was disappointing. It earned only $4 million on Thursday night, a number Finding Dory more than doubled the previous Thursday. The combined Thursday/Friday came in at an underwhelming $16.8 million, and its domestic goose was pretty much cooked right there. It's almost sad that one day's worth of box office can doom your blockbuster, but we knew Saturday morning that this one was A) going to open to less than $50 million, and B) earn less than $150 million at the domestic box office. When your film costs $165 million to make (rumored to be as much as $200 million), your film, will need a global gross of $500 to $600 million to see a theatrical profit. With this first day, the brightest hope for 20th Century Fox over the summer, has evaporated.
Over the weekend, Independence Day: Resurgence earned a disappointing $41.6 million from a massive screen count of 4,068, and an average of $10,226 tells us there were half empty theaters. The reason for the domestic disappointment is simple and completely ironic. Fox blew it on the marketing for Resurgence, creating a completely forgettable campaign. Adversely, the original Independence Day set the bar for marketing for a decade, as the clip of famous landmarks being destroyed created huge buzz. Lightning did not strike twice with the marketing, and the film was subpar as well. After a loud embargo, critics have come out slowly, giving it a 33% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The original is listed as 61% fresh at the site, but that's from a smaller sample.
The death blow for Independence Day: Resurgence is in the Cinemascore. The original Independence Day earned a hearty A, and given its rah rah nature that seems appropriate. The sequel did not match the original, and came in at a B, which is an ugly Cinemascore. That's the same score as Indiana Jones Crystal Skull mistake, and worse than all of the Transformers movies. Buzz is going to be limp coming out of opening weekend, and will push Resurgence's domestic total down further, putting even more pressure on the overseas gross. However, this is another film not really made for us in North America, as overseas it grossed $102 million over its opening weekend. That's going to help save Independence Day: Resurgence, but even that number is not going to bail it out of the loftier side of the budget ($165-200 million).