BFG Purged at July 4th Box Office
By John Hamann
July 3, 2016
We knew Tarzan and The BFG weren’t going to be much this July long weekend, but was it as full of doom and gloom as other box office sites are saying it is? Absolutely not.
Welcome to the July 4th long weekend at the box office. If it’s a long weekend, in summer, the box office should be on fire right? Actually, the July 4th weekend is an anti-box office weekend, as people are busy with barbecues, camping and outdoor activities, putting movies as a lower choice. History proves this fact, as July 4th openers that have debuted softly include 2015’s Terminator: Genisys ($27 million) and Magic Mike XXL ($12.9 million), 2014’s Tammy ($21.6 million), 2013’s The Lone Ranger ($29.2 million), 2013’s White House Down ($24.9 million), 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man ($62 million), and 2010’s The Last Airbender ($40.3 million). July 4th was not kind to any of these films, and the recent trend line shows that openers struggle to get past $30 million in recent years.
New releases looking to beat the trend this July 4th weekend include Steven Spielberg’s The BFG, an adaptation of the Roald Dahl book from E.T. screenwriter Melissa Matheson. This one is from Disney, who obviously ignored the lessons and results of 2013’s Jack the Giant Slayer, another film about giants that was ignored almost completely, earning just $65 million domestic against a $195 million budget. Also opening is The Legend of Tarzan, a title I get sleepy just typing out. Whoever thought we needed a big, $180 million film about Tarzan does not live in my head, as Hollywood goes zero-for-two in terms of piquing my interest. Our last opener does have my attention, as it is The Purge: Election Year, one of the very few current horror franchises, that was actually built around original thought. With this release date, The Purge threequel is the only release strongly positioned this weekend, given its low budget ($10 million), built-in audience, and the rumored on-screen castration of Donald Trump (kidding).
While the openers scramble and feed off of each other, our number one film for the July 4th frame is the three-weekend champion, Finding Dory. The Pixar fish sequel is simply killing it. After earning $23.2 million last weekend, Dory dropped only 42% Friday-to-Friday. That's not bad considering it had already earned $330 million domestically before its third weekend began. It actually finished third on Friday behind two of the openers, breaking its consecutive days at number one streak at 14 days, but rose back into top spot on Saturday and Sunday.
Finding Dory earned a still-powerful $41.9 million from 4,305 venues this weekend, dropping 43% compared to last weekend’s $73 million take. The hold is solid considering The BFG opened – albeit to a fraction of what the studio was looking for – which brings up an interesting point around scheduling. If you were Disney and opening Finding Dory on June 17th, would you schedule a Steven Spielberg kids flick on July 1st? Dory is performing at a beyond best case scenario, earning $40 million plus in weekend three, and had it performed as a mere mortal, it would only be earning $25 million this weekend. The gross this weekend is the eighth best third weekend of all time, which is extremely close to the $43.7 million The Jungle Book earned in its third weekend.