The 2016 Fourth of July holiday frame is underway, with three films opening in wide release across the U.S.: director Steven Spielberg's Roald Dahl adaptation The BFG, Harry Potter helmsman David Yates' The Legend of Tarzan, and James DeMonaco's third Purge movie, The Purge: Election Year. However, heading into the holiday frame, most box office predictions suggested that Disney/Pixar's smash hit sequel, Finding Dory, would be walking away with the U.S. box office crown during the extended holiday weekend.
It looks as though Dory will, indeed, claim the #1 spot for the overall Fourth of July frame, after having topped the domestic box office for the past two weeks (fending off such new releases as Independence Day: Resurgence in the process). Nevertheless, Election Year - the third installment in the Blumhouse low-budget horror/thriller series that is The Purge - managed to claim a victory over Dory at the box office on Friday.
As reported by multiple outlets (Variety included), The Purge: Election Year (read our review) claimed the #1 spot at the U.S. box office on Friday with a $14.5 million take, followed by Finding Dory at #2 with $13.4 million. However, Blumhouse franchise films tend to be (somewhat infamously) front-loaded when it comes to their box office numbers, meaning that Dory is projected to gross more total over the Fourth of July frame. Currently, Finding Dory looks to continue holding well (thanks to excellent word of mouth) and gross $43 million from Friday-Sunday this weekend ($52 million, factoring in Monday), while Election Year is poised to reach $33 million total by Sunday (and $37 million by Monday).
Meanwhile, Legend of Tarzan (read our review) is on course to make $34 million in the U.S. by Sunday ($40 million by Monday), whereas The BFG should reach $21 million by Sunday ($25 million by Monday) - after opening on Friday to the sums of $14 million and $7 million, respectively. Legend of Tarzan was the least well-received critically of the three new releases this weekend, but landed an A- Cinemascore with audiences. However, while those who have seen the film thus far seem to generally like it, that doesn't guarantee that moviegoers who passed on seeing Legend of Tarzan right away will now be more inclined to give it a look. Fortunately, it's the sort of big-budget movie that should perform stronger at the international box office than in the U.S. anyway, so there's a chance Legend of Tarzan may yet recoup its reported $180 million budget (not including marketing costs).
By comparison, The BFG's opening day gross and projected weekend numbers are no doubt lower than what Walt Disney Pictures hoped the $140 million Spielberg production would take in. The BFG also earned an A- Cinemascore from U.S. audiences (in addition to receiving the warmest critical reception of this weekend's new films) and may yet show some holding power at the box office, but it will face direct competition for its targeted family demographic next weekend, when The Secret Life of Pets reaches U.S. theaters. Still, just like Legend of Tarzan, The BFG is an effects-heavy offering based on a property (Roald Dahl's literature) with strong international appeal, so it may yet follow in the footsteps of Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin - a film with similar international marketability that saw modest ticket sales in the U.S., but made nearly 80 percent of its $374 million total at the box office overseas.
The Purge: Election Year, The BFG, and The Legend of Tarzan are all playing in theaters now.