This weekend, Pixar will release the sequel to Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, in theaters. Placing the titular lovable blue tang fish in the spotlight, it tells the story of Dory trying to find her family. With Nemo director Andrew Stanton back at the helm for the followup, the film has been scoring positive reviews thus far, indicating that Pixar is about to have another critically acclaimed hit on their impressive résumé.
The fact that Finding Dory is riding a wave of positive buzz will surely help its box office prospects, which were already expected to set a new high for a Pixar opening weekend. With just a few days to go before the movie's premiere (as of this writing), the latest projections fall in line with the earlier reports. After the financial disappointment of last year's The Good Dinosaur, Pixar is going to bounce back in a huge way.
According to Deadline, the latest from the animation powerhouse is on pace to gross somewhere in the range of $100 - 115 million over its first three days, which would be the second largest debut for a film this summer. Fellow Disney release Captain America: Civil War pulled in $179.1 million when it debuted in May and is now the top earning film of 2016. Should Dory max out on those estimates and hit $115 million, it would have the fourth biggest opening weekend of the year, behind a trio of comic book adaptations: Civil War, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Deadpool.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that Dory is poised to be a bona fide blockbuster. 2003's Nemo is one of Pixar's most popular efforts, as only Toy Story 3 grossed more at the box office. Operating as a legacy sequel, Dory sports the cross-generational appeal that Pixar is known for; obviously, children adore animated films, but today's adults (many of whom grew up with the first film) should also be drawn to it due to the nostalgia factor. In addition, Finding Dory should benefit from several premium formats, including 3D and about 100 IMAX theaters. The film will also have the widest opening of any Pixar movie, bowing in 4,305 locations.
The timing couldn't be better for the marketplace, as this summer has been marred by disappointments. Outside of Civil War, a number of the tentpoles have failed to post high figures. Ticket sales are down 22 percent compared to this point in 2015, with Alice Through the Looking Glass, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, and even X-Men: Apocalypse not living up to their predecessors. A key factor there is word-of-mouth, which has been mixed for several summer releases this year. Dory generating enthusiastic responses almost ensures casual audiences and die-hard fans alike will be inclined to check it out, especially since Pixar has built a stellar reputation over the past 21 years.
Disney has already broken several box office records in 2016, and they're ready to add to their lofty totals. Finding Dory is just the beginning of what should be a very lucrative second half for the Mouse House. Later on, they'll release titles like Moana, Doctor Strange, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, all of which are expected to do considerable damage at the box office. They've seen two of their films cross the $1 billion plateau so far (and Jungle Book is at over $900 million), and Dory could very well be the third.
Finding Dory hits U.S. theaters June 17, 2016.