Spielberg’s ‘The BFG’ Leads Fourth of July Newcomers
It’s been three years since any films opened above $30 million over Fourth of July weekend. Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2 was the most recent in 2013 with a hefty $83.5 million debut. Though Steven Spielberg’s family film, The BFG, The Purge: Election Year and The Legend of Tarzan are all gunning for a modest haul, none of them will best the soon-to-be three-week champ, Finding Dory.
Spielberg’s The BFG comes at an awkward time in the summer movie season, sandwiched in between two much larger hits, Finding Dory and Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets. The BFG is based on the Roald Dahl 1982 children’s book by the same name. An orphan named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) get taken away by the Big Friendly Giant (BFG for short) to take down the evil man-eating giants. The film also stars Mark Rylance as the titular motion-captured BFG as well as Penelope Wilton, Jermaine Clement and Rebecca Hall rounding out the cast.
So far, The BFG has generally received favorable reviews, currently at a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. Both Ashley Menzel and Zachary Marsh both enjoyed the film, highlighting its fun and family-friendly premise. The BFG will wrap up the weekend being a modest hit. Steven Spielberg films have been hit and miss at the box office, some of which fall short of $100 million. Also factor in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from 2005 as being the only breakout Roald Dahl adaptation with well over $200 million domestically. Adaptations of Matilda, James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr. Fox weren’t exactly financial hits.
The BFG begins its engagements Thursday night at 7 p.m. in 2D and 3D, before expanding on Friday in 3,357 theaters. By Sunday, The BFG could be aiming for a $20 million weekend.
Taking a year off since 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy, the annual night of total anarchy returns in The Purge: Election Year. Set two years after Anarchy, Election Year brings back police sergeant Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) to protect the presidential frontrunner (Elizabeth Mitchell), who’s vows to get rid of the Purge. Together, they must survive this year’s Purge as a conspiracy begins to develop.
The previous two installments of The Purge opened with decent debuts albeit frontloaded legs. The 2013 surprised with a $34.1 million start, while the sequel pulled in $29.8 million. The big question here is whether the audience is still here for the franchise with Universal skipping a year. Its themes are topical, however working its heavy political themes into a election year could interest some moviegoers. The holiday weekend will certainly play into the weekend multiplier and it could be the lowest opener in the series to date. Showings begin at 7 p.m. Thursday night before being released in 2,787 theaters on Friday. Even down 100 theaters since Anarchy, The Purge: Election Year may only see an opening under $20 million.
The last major release this weekend is Warner Bros.’ The Legend of Tarzan. While the Edgar Rice Burroughs character has been interpreted in various ways, this adaptation introduces the jungle man (Alexander Skarsgård) as an aristocrat in Victorian London brought back into his original environment. The film also stars Margot Robbie, Jim Broadbent, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou and Christoph Waltz.
So far, Tarzan has received the worst reception of the three new releases, currently standing at a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. Warner Bros. is releasing Tarzan one hour early tonight with showings beginning at 6 p.m. in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D. In over 3,500 theaters, Tarzan would just be able to round out the Top 5 on Sunday with $13 million.
Box Office Projections
1. Finding Dory (Buena Vista) – $40.4 million (1)
2. The BFG (Buena Vista) – $20.1 million (NR)
3. Independence Day: Resurgence (Fox) – $18.7 million (2)
4. The Purge: Election Year (Universal) – $18.4 millon (NR)
5. The Legend of Tarzan (Warner Bros.) – $13.2 million (NR)