Walt Disney Co.’s long-awaited sequel “Finding Dory” set an opening record for an animated movie, topping the box office this weekend.
The film, a follow-up to the 2003 hit “Finding Nemo,” collected $136.2 million in theaters in the U.S and Canada, according to an emailed statement Sunday from ComScore Inc. The only other new release of the weekend, Warner Bros.’ comedy “Central Intelligence,” placed second with $34.5 million in ticket sales. Disney last topped the list in May with its third “Captain America” film.
The box office win puts Disney on track for a year that analysts predict will be the company’s biggest ever in film. With its five movie units all releasing pictures, the output had been estimated to push the industry’s box office gross this year ahead of the record in 2015. Yet, the thirst from movie fans for “Finding Dory” is a bright spot after a disappointing few weeks of early summer releases.
Doug Creutz, an analyst at Cowen & Co., estimated that of the 15 sequels released this year, on average they will finish down 37 percent in nominal box office returns from their predecessor film. The summer is trending to be among the worst in 16 years, he said.
“Finding Dory,” made by Pixar, beat the animation brand’s opening weekend record of $110.3 million set by “Toy Story 3” in 2010. The movie could be the biggest of the summer, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. “Shrek the Third,” from DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., had held the record for biggest opening weekend from an animated movie with $121.6 million in 2007.
Comedian Ellen DeGeneres reprises her role as the forgetful blue tang fish. With her friends Nemo and Marlin, she goes on a journey to reconnect with the family she lost long ago.
Critics loved the movie, with 95 percent giving positive reviews, according to aggregator Rottentomatoes.com. While Disney said it expected a domestic debut north of $100 million, Doug Stone, president of Box Office Analyst, estimated a tally as high as $135 million. BoxOfficePro.com predicted $131 million, while the Hollywood Stock Exchange indicated a debut total of $122 million as of Thursday, prior to any weekend reporting.