Weekend Box Office: 'Dumbo' Disappoints With $45M U.S. Debut
Elsewhere, the anti-abortion movie 'Unplanned' scored one of the top openings ever for faith-based Pure Flix, while Matthew McConaughey's 'The Beach Bum' bombed with $1.8 million to mark the actor's worst wide opening.
Disney's Dumbo had trouble gaining altitude at the North American box office, where it opened to a disappointing $45 million from 4,259 theaters.
Tim Burton's live-action update of the classic 1941 animated film about a baby elephant with magical ears had been expected to cross $50 million in its domestic debut. Overseas, Dumbo opened to $71 million, including $10.7 million in China, for a global start of $116 million.
Dumbo still easily won the weekend ahead of holdover Us, but it's the lowest start among Disney's high-profile, live-action updates, prompting some box office analysts to question whether there is a built-in fanbase for the nearly 80-year-old property.
Poor reviews didn't help, although audiences liked it far more than critics, bestowing the film with an A- CinemaScore. In 2010, Burton and Disney's live-action Alice in Wonderland overcame a 51 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes to earn $1.02 billion at the global box office (Dumbo's RT score is currently 50 percent).
With Easter approaching, Disney is counting on the movie having sturdy legs. "We're very encouraged. We are in the middle of rolling spring breaks and we think Dumbo is a good option for families," says Disney distribution chief Cathleen Taff.
Next weekend, however, Dumbo could face competition from the kid-friendly superhero pic Shazam!
In March 2010, Burton's Alice in Wonderland opened to $116.1 million. In March 2015, Cinderella launched to $67.8 million domestically, followed by The Jungle Book with $103.2 million in April 2016 and Beauty and the Beast with nearly $175 million in March 2017, unadjusted for inflation.
Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Eva Green star in Dumbo, which tells the story of a crumbling circus whose troubles are compounded when a baby elephant is declared a laughingstock because of the pachyderm's abnormally large ears. But when the troupe discovers the animal can fly, the circus makes a comeback. Enter a persuasive entrepreneur with not-so-nice intentions.
Dumbo cost $170 million to produce before marketing, so it will need to stay aloft in the weeks to come in order to end up in the black. Burton's film is the first of three high-profile Disney remakes set for 2019; both Aladdin and The Lion King will hit theaters this summer.
Jordan Peele and Universal's Us continued to impress in its second weekend, grossing $33.6 million from 3,743 theaters, a decline of just 53 percent and putting the horror pic's total at $128.2 million through Sunday. Overseas, it has earned $46.3 million for a global total of $174.5 million.
Disney and Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel followed at No. 3 in its fourth frame with $21 million as the female-led superhero pic prepares to cross the $1 billion mark at the global box office later this week.
The anti-abortion drama Unplanned overperformed in its launch with $6.1 million from 1,059 theaters, the second-best start ever for faith-based distributor Pure Flix behind God's Not Dead 2 ($7.6 million). The R-rated pic, coming in No. 5 just behind holdover Five Feet Apart ($6.3 million), tells the true story of Abby Johnson, who defected from Planned Parenthood to become a pro-life activist.
Unplanned was partially financed by Michael Lindell, the multimillionaire founder of My Pillow, who is a born-again Christian and outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump. The $6 million movie, graced with an A+ CinemaScore, played best in conservative-leaning states in the Midwest and South.
Elsewhere, Harmony Korine's star-studded stoner comedy The Beach Bum bombed in its debut with $1.8 million from 1,015 cinemas — the worst wide opening of Matthew McConaughey's career following the dismal bow of Serenity ($4.4 million) in January. Zac Efron, Jonah Hill, Isla Fisher and Snoop Dogg also star in the $5 million indie pic, which was snubbed by critics following its SXSW premiere.
Believing there was an opening in the marketplace, Neon and Vice decided at the 11th hour to open Beach Bum nationwide, versus a more limited launch, and didn't pay for an expensive TV blitz, according to insiders. The audience skewed male (58 percent), while 40 percent of ticket buyers were between the ages of 25 and 34.
In 2013, Korine's Spring Breakers opened first in a handful of cinemas before expanding nationwide in its second weekend, when it grossed nearly $5 million on its way to earning $14 million domestically for A24.
Among other indie titles, Hotel Mumbai, starring Dev Patel and Armie Hammer, expanded into a total of 924 cinemas in its sophomore outing. Distributed by Bleecker Street, the drama earned $3.2 million for the weekend for an early total of $3.3 million.
Elsewhere, Universal and DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World crossed the $500 million mark at the global box office in its sixth weekend.
March 29, 1:30 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
March 30, 8:20 a.m. Updated with Friday grosses and revised weekend estimates.
March 31, 8:00 a.m. Updated with weekend estimates.