President Bill Pullman declared back in 1996 that “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish! Unfortunately, it’s 2016, and that looks like exactly what is about to happen to Independence Day‘s resurgence.
What was supposed to be the highly anticipated sequel to the highest grossing movie of 1996 and a guaranteed home run for 20th Century Fox has, shockingly, turned out to be just the latest Hollywood summer tentpole to crash and burn at the box office. Box Office Mojo reports that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s Will Smith-less Independence Day: Resurgence – with a budget upwards of $165 million – got blasted opening weekend by Pixar’s record-breaking Finding Dory with a well below expectation $41.6 million. Compare that second place debut to Dory‘s second weekend, which held very strong at a staggering $73 million.
Adding insult to injury, that $41.6 million is considerably less than the 1996 original’s debut weekend. ID4 opened to $50 million in 1996, which amounts to a lot more monetarily when you consider today’s inflation, higher ticket prices, and 3D surcharge. Even the Cinemascore grade dropped from an A in ’96 to a B in ’16. (They clearly didn’t poll Uncle Creepy.)
As seems to increasingly be the case of late, international box office (particularly China) is the only thing that can potentially save this big budget special effects blockbuster from being a total box office bust. The good news for them is that it has already begun to open strong internationally. The bad news is that it will probably already be history by the time our actual Independence Day weekend rolls in.
Could the failure of Independence Day: Resurgence mark the death knell for Nineties nostalgia movies? Will its diminishing returns ensure the world will never get such other long awaited 90’s follow-ups as Ransom: Requiem, Awakenings: Reawakening, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle: Reborn, Boomerang: Rebound, Freejack: Resurrection, No Escape: Recaptured, Mr. Holland’s Opus: Retaliation, Lost in Space: Relocated, Highlander: Requickening, Demolition Man: Redemolished, The Lawnmower Man: Recall, Captain Ron: Retribution, Nell: Relavenplabfrrr, Mrs. Doubtfire: Reignited, Volcano: Reeruption, Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion: The Reunion, and Ghost Dad: Relax and Just Let it Happen?
Meanwhile, in fourth place behind Central Intelligence, The Shallows has become one of the summer’s little movies that could. Sony gambled moving up its release date a week at the last minute, and it paid off. Though I must say I am somewhat baffled how a movie with only one lead and about five other minor characters that takes place almost entirely on a beach and three tiny locations on the water could still require a budget of $17 million. Just how many millions did they pay that seagull?
The Jaume Collet-Serra directed survival thriller pitting Blake Lively against a very hungry shark nearly made its budget back in one weekend, over-performing with $16.7 million. The Shallows also scored the coveted girl power demographic with its audience being more than 55% female.
The ladies were not out in force for Nicolas Winding Refn’s fashion model horror story The Neon Demon. Broad Green/Amazon made the bold move of opening what is essentially an arthouse movie fairly wide (700+ theaters) amid the summer blockbusters. The bold move didn’t pay off as well as they may have hoped. Predicted to make somewhere between $2-3 million, the Elle Fanning chiller finished outside of the top ten in 15th place with just over $606,000.
Next week it’ll be time to Purge once more. But with real life and the actual American election looking more like something out of a horror movie of late, will audiences still feel like flocking to a third helping of citizens trying to survive another 24 hours of dystopian full-contact trick or treating?
In retrospect, it probably wasn’t a very good sign for Independence Day: Resurgence that the biggest marketing tie-in for what was supposed to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the summer was with Denny’s. At the very least they should have offered special UFO-shaped ID4 pancakes guaranteed to drill directly into your colon.