'Dory' finds her way to box-office record, with biggest opening weekend for any animated film


The prescription for an ailing US box office came this weekend in the form of the forgetful blue fish of Disney-Pixar’sFinding Dory.

Pulling in an estimated US$136.2 million in the US and Canada, the picture became the highest-debuting animated film of all time, boosting a sluggish summer moviegoing season.

“These Pixar folk are just so consistent more than anything … focusing on quality and great storytelling,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s distribution chief. “They did it this time again, telling an extraordinary story that lives up to and exceeds expectations.”

The long-awaited sequel to 2003’sFinding Nemohad been expected to gross as much as US$120 million in ticket sales heading into the weekend, according to analysts. The studio itself projected a more modest US$100 million. But the film’s stellar debut makes it the top animated film opening weekend ever — a title previously held by 2007’sShrek the Third, from Paramount, which took in US$121.6 million in its debut.Doryalso has the title of second-best June opening for all releases (behind last year’s US$208.7 million from Universal’sJurassic World) and the best Pixar debut, beating the US$110.3 million ofToy Story 3in 2010.

Such a powerful opening is welcomed news for cinemas suffering from a lacklustre summer so far, with movies such as Universal’sWarcraftandNeighbors 2faltering domestically. Prior to this weekend, summer ticket sales were down 22 percent industrywide compared with the same time a year ago.

Released 13 years ago, “Nemo” was a massive hit. The computer-animated movie opened to US$70 million and ended its original domestic run with US$339 million. Including international box office and a 2012 re-release, the film’s worldwide box office total stands at $937 million.

The new movie focuses on Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), the sidekick from the first film who suffers from short-term memory loss.

Audiences and critics agreed the picture held up well compared with the original. Moviegoers gave it an A CinemaScore, and 95 per cent of critics on the review-aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes rated it positively.

“Dory” pulled in an estimated US$50 million from the international marketplace. The film marks Pixar’s second biggest opening ever in China (US$17.5 million), behindZootopia, and the biggest Disney-Pixar opening weekend ever in Australia (US$7.6 million). It will continue its international rollout in France and Spain next weekend before expanding across the globe throughout the summer and fall.

The picture has grossed a global total of $186.2 million in its first weekend.