'Finding Dory' blows animation record out of the water

( Agencies ) Updated: 2016-06-23 09:25:10

'Finding Dory' blows animation record out of the water

Cast member Ty Burrell poses with a fan at the premiere of Finding Dory at El Capitan theater in Hollywood, California, on June 8. [Photo/Agencies]

The forgetful blue fish of Finding Dory is box office gold.

The Pixar sequel far surpassed its already ocean-sized expectations to take in $136.2 million in North American theaters, making it the highest-grossing animated debut of all time, not adjusting for inflation, according to comScore estimates on Sunday.

The 2007 film Shrek the Third was the previous record-holder, with a $121.6 million debut.

Finding Dory, which comes 13 years after Finding Nemo, is also the second-largest June opening of all time, with Jurassic World at No 1. The well-reviewed film features the voices of Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks.

Going into the weekend, analysts expected Finding Dory to draw big, $100 million-plus numbers, but never this big.

"The thought was: 'Could this be the movie to eclipse Toy Story 3's opening?' not, 'Could it become the biggest animated opening of all time?"' says Paul Dergarabedian, comScore's senior media analyst. "That's the power of the Pixar brand."

Until now, Toy Story 3 was Pixar's biggest opening ever, with $110.3 million.

Disney Executive Vice-President of Distribution Dave Hollis was particularly heartened that the film did such robust late-night business on Friday and Saturday.

"That's really a testament to this being a picture for everyone-not just for families," Hollis says.

Finding Dory has the animated seas to itself until The Secret Life of Pets opens on July 8.

The Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson buddy comedy Central Intelligence also had a relatively muscular weekend, with a better-than-expected $34.5 million, putting it in second place.

"It's a real home run," says Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros' executive vice-president of domestic distribution. "These two comedians are just stars. They connect with their audience and each other in such a strong way. You just laugh when you watch them."

Central Intelligence cost a reported $50 million to make and scored especially well with younger audiences, who the studio hopes will propel word-of-mouth business in weeks to come. The next major comedy releases don't come until mid-July, with Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Ghostbusters.

In third place, the James Wan horror pic The Conjuring 2 fell 62 percent in its second weekend in theaters, earning $15.6 million and bringing its domestic total to $71.7 million.

Rounding out the top five were Now You See Me 2, with $9.7 million, and Warcraft, with $6.5 million.

Overall, the weekend is down nearly 5 percent from last year, when Inside Out launched with $90.4 million and Jurassic World earned $106.6 million in its second weekend in theaters.

Still, Dergarabedian says the comparatively big audiences this weekend are good for business in the long run because they'll be exposed to trailers for upcoming summer films. The success of Finding Dory and Central Intelligence also comes after a few weekends of underwhelming sequels and all-out flops.

"A movie like Dory can reinvigorate a marketplace that has been in the doldrums for the last few weeks," he says.

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