BFG Purged at July 4th Box Office
By John Hamann
July 3, 2016
That puts our best new opener into third this weekend, but Jason Blum and the makers of The Purge: Election Year don’t care, as the horror flick beat its production budget of $10 million on its first day. Yes, like most Jason Blum horror flicks, Purge 3 earned $14.5 million on day one, pulling off that rare feat of having most of your production and marketing budgets paid off after three-days of release. As expected, The Purge: Election Year didn’t stay hot after opening night; however, the holiday Monday helped it more than other iterations of this franchise. Over the three-day portion of the long weekend, The Purge 3 earned an impressive $30.9 million from only 2,796 screens, which is 1,500 less venues than Finding Dory. Showings would have been packed on Friday, which always creates a good start for a film like this.
Why do packed houses help? Because audiences love The Purge: Election Year. The film scored an excellent-for-horror Cinemascore of B+, as this is true horror, not the run from the shark thriller that The Shallows is. Even the reviews were somewhat kind, with more positive scores than negative, and a mixed 54% score at RottenTomatoes – again a victory for this type of film. The even better news for Universal is that there is growth to The Purge as a franchise, especially overseas. The original Purge earned $25 million over there, the follow up took in $40 million. Once again over the silly summer season, the small, modestly budgeted film works, while the big budgeted behemoths suffer.
Speaking of over-spending (and suffering), Disney’s The BFG is looking like an expensive mistake. The fantasy film earned $19.6 million over the three-day portion of the long weekend. At a cost of $140 million, the giant feature needs to earn over $400 million worldwide in order to even think about profitability. With this opening, even a multiplier over 4.0 will only push it toward $100 million domestic, leaving too much pressure on overseas grosses. The Steven Spielberg name will help, but this will need an Adventures of Tintin response if it has any hope. Spielberg’s 2011 version of Tin Tin earned only $79 million domestically, but picked up a massive $300 million abroad, saving it from disaster.
The only hope for The BFG lies within itself. It would appear that Spielberg and Disney put together a strong piece of filmmaking. It is 71% fresh at RottenTomatoes – decent but not spectacular – and the Cinemascore is the same at an A-. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough buzz or really anything to restart momentum on The BFG. Unless some bizarre groundswell of momentum happens, Disney is going to have another family film dud on its hands, as it joins Alice Through The Looking Glass.
Fifth goes to Independence Day: Resurgence, and despite having an opening weekend below $45 million, it still gets hammered in its second frame. Resurgence earned only $16.5 million in weekend two, giving it a disastrous drop of 60% and the final dagger. The only question now is how big the writedown is, as this one cost $165 million to make, and is in real danger of not making $100 million at the domestic box office. The good news is that it earned over $100 million overseas last weekend, but it has a long way to go to get to $500 million worldwide. So far, it has $72.7 million on the domestic side.