This weekend may prove to be one of those weekends that says quite a lot about the reality of making money in the movie business. Independence Day: Resurgence, the sequel to the 1996 blockbuster, is currently looking to hit the lower side of the spectrum as far as box office estimates go, bringing in $17 million on its opening day and looking at an estimated $43 million for the weekend.
The other major opening of the weekend is The Shallows, a lean, electrifying thriller directed by the hugely talented Jaume Collett-Serra, which is on its way to a $17 million weekend after making $8 million on Friday. Resurgence made as much in one day as The Shallows is likely to make over the whole weekend, but The Shallows only cost $17 million to make with a major star, Blake Lively, whereas $17 million is about a tenth of the price tag for Resurgence. I might only also point out that critics have been far more excited by Collett-Serra’s film than Emmerich’s sequel.
In the 1990s, studios were built and maintained on movies like The Shallows with modest budgets that could garner decent profits, rather than outrageously big gambles such as a $160-odd million sequel to a movie that was a big deal when I was 13. It’s unlikely that things will revert to that model any time soon, but it’s still nice to see a movie like The Shallows do so well and be received with such enthusiasm. Ultimately, however, both films fell to Finding Dory, Pixar’s best sequel since Toy Story 3 by a mile, which continues on from its sensational first weekend with a solid $23 million take on Friday and a projected $75 million for the entire weekend. As Variety points out, thats a hugely enviable drop of only 44% from the first weekend, and sets Finding Dory up to be one of Pixar’s most lucrative films of the decade thus far.
Meanwhile, Free State of Jones, Gary Ross‘s well-meaning and well-acted Civil War drama, came in with only $2.7 million on Friday. This reinforces another unfortunate rule in the box office game that’s hard to shake: films about war and racism are a bummer, in every sense of the word.