‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ makes up ground overseas with $102.1 million; elsewhere in the U.S., ‘The Shallows’ has a sharper bite than expected, while ‘Free State of Jones’ and ‘The Neon Demon’ are D.O.A.
Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day: Resurgence failed to ignite big fireworks at the North American office over the weekend, where it came in behind expectations with an estimated $41.6 million from 4,068 theaters.
While that’s hardly a disastrous start, the long-awaited sequel to the 1996 blockbuster will need to do sizeable business overseas to land in the black for Fox. So far, the tentpole seems to be getting its wish, debuting to $102.1 million from 57 foreign markets, including China, for a global debut of $143.7 million.
Emmerich’s film, which earned a mediocre B CinemaScore, was no match for holdover Finding Dory, which continued to wow in its second weekend, paddling to an estimated $73.2 million from 4,305 theaters for a first-place finish. The animated sequel has now earned $286.6 million domestically and $397 million globally. And if Sunday’s estimate holds, Finding Dory will boast the biggest second weekend domestically for an animated film, beating 2004’s Shrek 2 ($72.2 million), not accounting for inflation. Final numbers will be released Monday.
Another animated summer tentpole dipped its toes in the water for the first time this weekend — Illumination Entertainment and Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets, which debuted in the U.K. post-Brexit to a stellar $14.3 million, one of the top showings of all time for an animated title and besting Independence Day: Resurgence ($7.3 million). Secret Life of Pets debuts in the U.S. on July 8.
Resurgence placed No. 2 behind Finding Dory in North America. Overseas, it topped the weekend foreign chart, led by China with $37.3 million. But in China itself, it placed No. 2 behind Now You See Me 2, which raced to a dazzling $43.3 million, a record for Lionsgate and bringing that movie’s global total to $159.8 million.
Emmerich’s film sports a hefty net budget of $165 million and was made without Will Smith, who opted to sit out the sequel. The first pic, released 20 years ago over the Fourth of July holiday, broke records on its way to temporarily becoming one of the top-grossing films of all time with $817.4 million worldwide, not adjusted for inflation.
“There’s still about 30 percent of the international footprint to go, so at the end of the day, this popcorn tentpole will be in good shape,” said Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson.
Independence Day: Resurgence skewed heavily male for an all-audience tentpole (58 percent), helping to explain the subdued results, while 64 percent of ticketbuyers were over the age of 25. Generally speaking, the film underperformed on the East Coast.
Resurgence is set two decades after the events of the original pic (including the spectacular destruction of the White House and other iconic landmarks) and sees the same menacing aliens once again wreaking havoc.
Smith might be absent, but a number of other stars appearing in the first film reprised their roles, including Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch. Newcomers include Liam Hemsworth, who plays a hot-shot military pilot whose parents died in the first alien attack and who is now dating the former first daughter (Maika Monroe), and Jessie Usher, who plays the stepson of Smith’s character, now deceased.
Elsewhere, Sony’s shark thriller The Shallows was the only new film to beat expectations, biting off an estimated $16.7 million from 2,962 theaters for a fourth-place finish behind Finding Dory, Resurgence and holdover Central Intelligence, which declined just 48 percent in its second weekend to $18.4 million for a pleasing 10-day domestic total of $69.3 million for New Line and Universal.
Central Intelligence, teaming Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart on the big screen for the first time, took in $4.7 million overseas for an early foreign total of $14.3 million and worldwide total of $83.6 million.
The Shallows, starring Blake Lively as a surfer in a fight-to-the-death battle with a great white shark, cost a modest $17 million to make and is a needed win for Sony. The big question now is how well the movie holds up; the studio believes it has transformed into a classic summer thriller, but genre titles can drop fast. Shallows skewed slightly younger, with 53 percent of the audience under the age of 25, while females fueled the film (54 percent).
Jaume Collet-Serra, known for such action movies as Non-Stop and Unknown, directed The Shallows. In an unexpected twist, it was the best-reviewed new film of the weekend with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 75 percent, while audiences gave it a B+.
“It’s a new twist on the classic shark movie, and we’re well set up to play into the Fourth of July,” said Josh Greenstein, Sony’s head of worldwide marketing and distribution. “Genre movies getting in the 70s on Rotten Tomatoes is a pretty remarkable thing to achieve.”
The outcome was grim for the two other new nationwide offerings. STX Entertainment’s Civil War drama Free State of Jones opened to a dismal $7.8 million from 2,815 locations, Matthew McConaughey’s worst showing in years. Directed by Gary Ross, Free State of Jones is no doubt being hurt by generally poor reviews; its current score on Rotten Tomatoes is 40 percent. However, audiences liked it far more, bestowing it with an A-.
The movie’s net budget is $50 million. STX insiders note the company’s financial risk on the film is minimized thanks to a number of partners, including IM Global, which is handling the pic internationally.
Free State of Jones tells the real-life story of Newt Knight, a defiant Southern farmer and Confederate medic who led an uprising and later married a former slave. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell and Mahershala Ali also star in the film, which played best in Mississippi, where the story is set. Nearly a two-thirds of ticketbuyers were over the age of 35.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon, a twisted take on the modeling industry, was D.O.A. at the box office, opening to an estimated $606,594 from 783 locations. The movie’s theater average is $783.
Neon Demon, which had its world premiere at Cannes, stars Elle Fanning as an aspiring model who moves to Los Angeles and encounters unearthly creatures in the form of more established models. Like STX, Amazon Studios and theatrical partner Broad Green Pictures were bold in daring to open the film in summer, much less nationwide, versus a platform run.
The decision to open Neon Demon meant less competition at the specialty box office for A24’s Swiss Army Man, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Paul Dano and rising stars Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The dramedy boasted the best location average of summer so far for a specialty film after grossing $114,000 from three locations in New York and Los Angeles for an average of $38,000.
Elsewhere globally, Legendary and Universal’s Warcraft crossed the $400 million mark, finishing Sunday with $412.2 million. The big-budget film likely needs to earn $450 million to break even.