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Box Office: How Families Saved 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' From Endangered Species List

The sequel opened to a better-than-expected $150 million in North America, even while pacing 28 percent behind the launch of 'Jurassic World' three years ago.
'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom'   |   Courtesy of Universal Pictures
The sequel opened to a better-than-expected $150 million in North America, even while pacing 28 percent behind the launch of 'Jurassic World' three years ago.

Fads come and go. But when it comes to dinosaurs, kids remain enraptured by raptors.

Thanks in large part to families, Universal's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opened to a better-than-expected $150 million at the North American box office. Coming one week after Disney and Pixar's animated pic Incredibles 2 launched to a record-shattering $182.7 milion domestically, its debut is another reminder of the buying power of families.

Heading into its opening, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was tracking to open to $130 million, which would have been a disappointing start for a movie that cost at least $170 million to produce before a hefty marketing spend. And it also would have meant that Universal would face the tough task of explaining why the sequel couldn't come close to matching the $208.8 million debut of Jurassic World in summer 2015.

But as kids flocked to see Fallen Kingdom with adults in tow, the grosses kept climbing higher throughout the weekend. While superhero and other action tentpoles always draw their share of parents and children, Jurassic World played more like a family film than a fanboy event film.

According to Universal, 56 percent of ticket buyers were under the age of 25 — the exact same percentage as for Incredibles 2.

Conversely, that compares to 50 percent for the first Jurassic World, or 42 percent for the more recent all-audience tentpole Avengers: Infinity War, and the just 18 percent of under-25s for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Jurassic World 2 also bested Disney's March family live-action film A Wrinkle in Time, whose opening weekend audience included only 42 percent under the age of 25.

The ability of Incredibles 2 and Jurassic World 2 to galvanize families resulted in one of only three times in history when a movie has opened to $100 million or more on two consecutive weekends, and it's only the first time when one of the weekends wasn't a holiday.

"Movies that appeal to families are critical," says Patrick Corcoran of the National Associaton of Theater Owners. "And it's simple math — offer something that appeals to four or five people, you gross bigger and faster than if you appeal to people in ones or twos. Family titles build for the future. Give people good experiences when they're young and you establish a lifelong habit."

Adds Imax Entertainment CEO Greg Foster: "Going forward, I think Hollywood will find an ever greater appetite for developing dynamic action franchises that speak to fanboys/fangirls and families alike. If you think about it, this pheneomenon can be found in titles like Wonder Woman and Guardians of the Galaxy."

There was a pent-up demand for family movies when Incredibles 2 opened. In its first 10 days, the sequel has grossed $350.4 milion domestically, already making it the third-biggest movie of the year to date and putting it ahead of the $261.4 million grossed by The Incredibles (2004) during its entire domestic run, not adjusted for inflation.

Globally, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has grossed north of $711 million to date, while Incredibles 2 — which is rolling out more slowly offshore — has earned $485 mililon worldwide.

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