This weekend at the box office, three newcomers will enter the marketplace, although none are likely to set off fireworks. "The BFG" and "The Legend of Tarzan" both look to be flops for their studios, while "The Purge: Election Year" may outgross them both despite costing a fraction of their budgets. "Finding Dory" should continue to be the strongest swimmer of the bunch, and last weekend's runner-up, "Independence Day: Resurgence," will hope to get a boost from the holiday that serves as its namesake. Overall, box office revenue for the holiday weekend should total around $195 million, which would be down about 13% from the same weekend in 2011 (the last time July 4 fell on a Monday).
"Finding Dory" will likely see another strong hold this weekend, especially when factoring in the holiday gross on Monday. The Disney/Pixar sequel recently swam past $300 million at the domestic box office, becoming the fastest animated film to do so in just 12 days. Given that Disney stablemate "The BFG" is likely to fall flat at the box office, "Dory" is likely to remain the top choice among most family audiences this weekend. The box office smash is likely to add around $57 million to its coffers by the time the fireworks go off on Monday, raising its total to a spectacular $390 million.
"The Purge: Election Year" seems primed to pull off a minor box office upset and claim the No. 2 spot this weekend. The horror sequel from Universal cost $10 million to make, compared to the $100+ million budgets of the weekend's other two offerings. The horror genre has had a strong summer thus far, with "The Conjuring 2" and "The Shallows" both exceeding expectations on their respective weekends.
"The Purge: Election Year" looks likely to follow suit, given its zeitgeist-y premise and the popularity of the 'Purge' brand. The last two movies opened to $34.1 million and $29.8 million, respectively, and the latest installment is trending ahead of the second movie on social media. The release date over the Independence Day holiday is a bit risky--the last horror film to open over this corridor, "Deliver Us From Evil," didn't exactly break box office records--but given the patriotic theme of "Election Year," the gamble should pay off. Expect the latest "Purge" to open between $33 and $35 million over the holiday weekend.
The race for the No. 3 spot looks to be fairly tight, as "The Legend of Tarzan," "The BFG" and "Independent Day: Resurgence" all have a chance at landing there. All of these movies look to make between $20 and $30 million for the weekend -- disappointing results for everyone involved. Here's how things should shake out:
"The Legend of Tarzan" may swing into the No. 3 slot ahead of the other two films, although Warner Bros. is unlikely to be beating its chest in triumph. The $180 million pricetag on the film is large for a non-sequel, and "Tarzan" probably needs a worldwide total in excess of $500 million to justify a franchise. However, "Tarzan" just doesn't seem like it is going to connect with U.S. audiences. The film has gotten crushed by critics, with a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and "Tarzan" may have already been overshadowed earlier this year by "The Jungle Book," a similarly-themed reboot.
On top of that, the advertising for the movie has been uninspired. Yet again, we have a damsel-in-distress, and yet again, we have Christoph Waltz playing a suave but sadistic villain. In a summer where "been there, done that" movies have really struggled--just look at 'Independence Day: Resurgence'--the latest take on "Tarzan" is unlikely to generate much business. Look for the film to make $25 to $26 million over the holiday weekend.
Fourth place seems likely to go to "The BFG," the latest family friendly offering from Disney. Unfortunately, the $140 million film looks like it will be a major disappointment for the studio that rarely misses at the box office. The film is tracking at around $30 million for the holiday weekend, but it looks like it may do even less, given the strong competition from "Dory" and the lack of enthusiasm around the film in general. "The BFG" has no starpower outside of Mark Rylance, whose latest movie, "Bridge of Spies," was probably not seen by a lot of young kids. While the Roald Dahl story off of which the film is based is popular, the book came out over 30 years ago, and this generation of children is perhaps not as familiar with it as earlier generations were.
Additionally, the timing of the movie is not ideal. "Finding Dory," as previously noted, is still doing big business at the box office, and "The Secret Life of Pets" is expected to be a blockbuster next weekend as well. Families may be saving their money for those two films, leaving "The BFG" out in the cold. Disney will have to hope that foreign audiences give the film a warmer reception when it releases in several territories this weekend. As far as domestic earnings go, look for "The BFG" to make $24 to $25 million through Monday.
Rounding out the Top 5 should be "Independence Day: Resurgence," which will hope to see a lot of traffic over its namesake holiday. Unfortunately, even Independence Day will not be able to save the poor reception that the film has received from moviegoers: "Resurgence" has received a horrible 38% Audience Rating on Flixster. Expect the film to earn around $21 million over the long weekend for an 11-day total of $79 million.
A weekend recap will be posted on Monday with studio estimates.