Box Office: 'Finding Dory' Swims to Record $55M on Friday
Elsewhere, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart's action comedy 'Central Intelligence' is on course for a $33 million-plus launch.
Pixar and Disney's animated sequel Finding Dory made a huge splash at the Friday box office, swimming to a record $55 million from 4,305 theaters for a projected weekend opening of $139 million.
That would be more than enough to wrest the crown for top animated opening from DreamWorks Animation's Shrek the Third, which debuted to $121.6 million in 2007. To date, Pixar's best opening is Toy Story 3 ($110.3 million).
Finding Dory's Friday haul marks the largest single day in history for an animated film, eclipsing the record $47 million earned by Shrek the Third on its first Saturday. Dory also grabbed an A CinemaScore.
Directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane, the sequel sees Ellen DeGeneres returning to voice the title role of Dory, the adorable blue fish beset with a bad case of short-term memory loss. Finding Nemo's Albert Brooks likewise returns to voice Marlin, while newcomer Hayden Rolence voices the character Nemo.
Finding Dory kicked things off by earning $9.2 million in Thursday-night previews. That's also a record for an animated film, besting last year's Minions ($6.2 million).
The story centers on Dory's attempts to reunite with her parents, whom she lost years ago. Accompanied by Nemo and Marlin, Dory arrives at a marine institute, where she engages with new friends, including a white beluga whale named Destiny (Ty Burrell), a white shark (Kaitlin Olson) and a cranky octopus (Ed O'Neill).
The weekend's other new offering is Central Intelligence, the action comedy pairing Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart on the big screen for the first time. The movie, coming in No. 2 is off to a solid start, earning an estimated $13 million Friday from 3,508 theaters for a projected $33 million-$35 million debut.
That's ahead of last summer's action comedy, Spy, which debuted to $29 million.
Central Intelligence, directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, follows a CIA agent (Johnson), a one-time teenage geek returning home for his high-school reunion, who enlists his former classmate (Hart) to help him complete a mission. Amy Ryan and Aaron Paul co-star in the movie, which earned an A- CinemaScore.
New Line, Warner Bros. and Universal teamed on Central Intelligence, which cost $50 million to produce.
Elsewhere, The Conjuring 2 is tipped to come in No. 3 with weekend earnings north of $15 million from 3,256 theaters for a domestic total of roughly $72 million. That's a steep 60 percent-plus drop from last weekend, but horror films generally drop fast.
Also in its second weekend, Now You See Me 2 could tumble as much as 56 percent to roughly $9.8 million from 3,232 locations for a domestic total of $42 million. In 2013, Now You See Me fell only 35 percent in its second weekend.
Still, that's nothing compared to Warcraft, which looks to be off 75 percent or more. The Legendary and Universal tentpole is expected to earn $5.9 million from 3,406 theaters for the weekend, putting its 10-day domestic total at $37.1 million.
June 17, 12:45 pm Updated with Friday estimates.
June 18, 7:50 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers.