June 25, 2016

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Independence Day” Doesn’t Surge, “Shallows” Deeper Than Expected


The underperforming spectacle of the week is INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (20th), which found out that not all that many people cared to see a sequel to a two-decade old hit without its original star.  According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, opening day was $17.5M (including $4M from Thursday evening), 33% below the already not-great launch of X-Men: ApocalypseID:R may benefit a bit from an older-skewing audience that doesn’t all show up on opening night, but it’s still headed for a flat $45M weekend, and may not get past a $125M US total.  That’s bad news for a would-be blockbuster with $300M+ of worldwide costs, and although–stop us if you’ve heard this before–it will hope for rescue from ticketbuyers overseas, breakeven is all it can realistically target, and studios don’t invest hundreds of millions in tentpole productions merely to avoid a loss.

The far more modest THE SHALLOWS (Columbia/Sony) is basically a Screen Gems movie produced by the Columbia wing of Sony, and it’s performing like a Screen Gems item with $6.7M on Thursday/Friday, and a possible $17M weekend.  With limited costs, and with the possibility of some foreign appeal (a bikini-clad girl stalked by a shark is a concept that can travel anywhere), this could be a nicely profitable venture before it’s done.

FREE STATE OF JONES (STX/H Brothers) is a serious, downbeat 139-minute Civil War-era history lesson that would normally have been targeted for film festivals and fall release.  The studio took a chance by launching it in the thick of summer (possibly out of fear of competing with expected awards frontrunner The Birth Of A Nation, which has overlapping themes), and it’s not paying off.  A $2.7M opening day will probably lead to a $8M weekend at best, not much for a film with $100M+ in worldwide costs, especially since international appeal is likely to be low.

Nicolas Winding Refn’s art thing NEON DEMON (Amazon/Broad Green) should never have gotten near a wide release, or even its 783-theatre semi-wide opening.  It practically dares audiences to sit through the (crazy, bloody) end, and hardly anyone is taking up the challenge, with an abysmal $160K on Friday and a weekend that may not get to $500K–an unbelievable $638 weekend per-theatre average.  (Bright spot:  according to Box Office Mojo, that would only make it #37 on the all-time list of lowest opening averages.)

All this weak competition was ideal for FINDING DORY (Pixar/Disney), which will easily win its 2d weekend.  It fell a reasonable 59% from last Friday to $22.7M, and should reach $75M for the weekend, which would be the highest 2d weekend for any animated film in history.  It’s on target to pass Captain America: Civil War‘s $402.5M and become the #1 film of 2016 thus far.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (New Line/RatPac/Universal/Warners) also held well, down 58% Friday-to-Friday at $5.4M, with a $18M weekend ahead, considerably better than the $13.1M 2d weekend for Get Hard.  It should be able to top $100M in the US before it’s done (Get Hard reached $90.4M).

The longer runs are continuing their trajectory:  THE CONJURING 2 (New Line/RatPac/Warners) should make its way to $100M after a $7M weekend, 30-35% below the first ConjuringNOW YOU SEE ME 2 (Summit/Lionsgate) may get to $65M in the US, 45% below the first.  WARCRAFT (Legendary/Universal) is all but done, still struggling to reach $50M in the US.

SWISS ARMY MAN (A24) had the most promising start of the weekend’s indies, with a possible $35K weekend per-theatre average at 3 NY/LA arthouses.  HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (Orchard) may average $14K at 5.  WIENER-DOG (IFC) may average $14K at 2.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."