Pixar sequel Finding Dory is US's highest-grossing animated debut ever

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Finding Dory, which comes 13 years after Finding Nemo, took in $136.2m in North American theaters this weekend, beating record set by Toy Story 3

Pixar sequel Finding Dory is US's highest-grossing animated debut ever
Hank, voiced by Ed O’Neill, and Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, in Finding Dory. Photograph: Pixar/AP

The Pixar sequel Finding Dory far surpassed expectations to take in $136.2m in North American theaters this weekend, making it the highest-grossing animated debut of all time, according to comScore estimates on Sunday. The 2007 film Shrek the Third was the previous record-holder, with $121.6m.

Finding Dory, which comes 13 years after Finding Nemo, is also the second-largest June opening of all time, behind Jurassic World from 2015. The well-reviewed film features the voices of Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks. Analysts expected it to take $100m or more, but never this much.

“The thought was, ‘Could this be the movie to eclipse Toy Story 3’s opening,’ not, ‘Could it become the biggest animated opening of all time,’” said Paul Dergarabedian, comScore’s senior media analyst. “That’s the power of the Pixar brand.”

Toy Story 3 was previously the biggest Pixar opening ever, with $110.3m.

Disney’s executive vice president of distribution, Dave Hollis, was particularly heartened that the film did such robust late-night business on both Friday and Saturday.

“That’s really a testament to this being a picture for everyone – not just for families,” he said.

Finding Dory has the animated seas to itself until The Secret Life of Pets opens on 8 July.

The Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson buddy comedy Central Intelligence also had a relatively muscular weekend, with a better-than-expected $34.5m putting it in second place.

“It’s a real home run,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros’ executive vice president of domestic distribution. “These two comedians are just stars. They connect with their audience and each other in such a strong way. You just laugh when you watch them.”

Central Intelligence cost a reported $50m to make and scored especially well with younger audiences, who the studio hopes will propel the word of mouth in weeks to come. The next major comedy releases don’t come until mid-July with Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Ghostbusters.

In third place, the James Wan horror pic The Conjuring 2 fell 62% in its second weekend in theaters, earning $15.6m and bringing its domestic total to $71.7m. Rounding out the top five were Now You See Me 2, with $9.7m and Warcraft, with $6.5m. Both opened last weekend.

Overall, the weekend was down nearly 5% from last year, when Inside Out launched with $90.4m and Jurassic World earned $106.6m in its second weekend.

Still, Dergarabedian noted that the comparatively big audiences this weekend were good for the business in the long run since they will be exposed to trailers for upcoming summer films. The success of Finding Dory and Central Intelligence comes after a few weekends of underwhelming sequels and all-out flops.

“A movie like ‘Dory’ can reinvigorate a marketplace that has been in the doldrums for the last few weeks,” he said. “It helps everyone.”

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