Box office hits and misses: ‘Pets’ wins, but ‘Finding Dory’ is the biggest movie of 2016

weekend box office finding dory secret life of pets gopro 2
Pixar’s animated sequel Finding Dory finally got knocked out of the top spot after three blockbuster weeks, but the success of new box-office champion The Secret Life of Pets wasn’t enough to keep the wildly popular fish story from breaking even more records.

With another $20.3 million in U.S. theaters, Finding Dory is now the highest-grossing film of 2016 in U.S. theaters with $422.5 million, and the highest-grossing animated movie of all time (domestically) for parent company The Walt Disney Company. The film’s weekend earnings were enough to move it past Toy Story 3 on Disney’s all-time chart, and to move it past another Disney project, Marvel Studios’ live-action Captain America: Civil War, to take the top spot for the year.

Still, despite all of the records being broken by Finding Dory, the film slipped to third place for the weekend, falling behind original animated feature The Secret Life of Pets and the live-action jungle adventure The Legend of Tarzan. Many pundits expected the competition between Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets to negatively affect one — or both — of the animated features, but both films seemed to have no problem attracting audiences.

Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s The Secret Life of Pets earned its own spot in the record books with a $103.1 million opening that gave it the best opening weekend of all time in U.S. theaters for an original (not a sequel or adaptation) animated feature. It moved past Disney’s 2015 Oscar winner Inside Out ($90.4 million) and this year’s Disney release Zootopia ($75 million) to become the new opening-weekend champ among original animated movies.

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. The Secret Life of Pets $103.1M $103.1M $145.7M
2. The Legend of Tarzan $20.6M $81.4M $135.4M
3. Finding Dory $20.3M $422.5M $642.7M
4. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates $16.6M $16.6M $20.3M
5. The Purge: Election Year $11.7M $58.1M $60.3M
6. Central Intelligence $8.1M $108.3M $156.2M
7. Independence Day: Resurgence $7.7M $91.5M $305.7M
8. The BFG $7.6M $38.7M $50.6M
9. The Shallows $4.8M $45.8M $48.2M
10. Sultan $2.2M $3.2M $3.2M

As for the rest of this weekend’s top movies, The Legend of Tarzan continued to limp along in second place, but is becoming less and less likely to recoup its estimated $180 million production costs with every weekend.

It was an entirely different story for the raunchy comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, which over-performed in its opening weekend and should have no problem covering its costs. Things were looking even better for horror sequel The Purge: Election Year and buddy comedy Central Intelligence, which both continued to do well in theaters and have already generated the sort of money that makes studios very, very happy.

As expected, sci-fi sequel Independence Day: Resurgence is relying heavily on overseas crowds to turn a profit, with the film earning just $91.5 million in the U.S. to more than $214.2 million internationally. Thanks to the overseas audience, the film has already covered its $165 million budget, so — much like with the recent Warcraft — we’ll soon learn whether the international market really can carry a movie to bona fide blockbuster status.

This upcoming week’s big release is director Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot, which will almost certainly take over the top spot thanks to all of the buzz — both positive and negative — surrounding it heading into the weekend. Bryan Cranston’s undercover drug-war drama The Infiltrator also arrives in theaters, but with two huge animated features and Ghostbusters all in the mix, the studio likely has low expectations for the film, despite all of the positive critical buzz it’s generating ahead of its release.


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