Independence Day kicked off with a whimper, at least where the movies were concerned.
For the third consecutive weekend, Disney and Pixar's "Finding Dory" is expected to swim to the top of the box office charts. It added $13.4 million to its $343.8 million haul on Friday, and is projected to bring in $43 million over the three days and $52 million over the four day holiday.
Not that Dory had much in the way of competition. This July 4th was supposed to host a blockbuster battle between David Yates' "The Legend of Tarzan" and Steven Spielberg's "The BFG," but both films are shaping up to be pop culture pip-squeaks.
"The Legend of Tarzan," Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's costly update on Edgar Rice Burroughs' moldy jungle yarns, is doing better than expected, pulling in $14 million on Friday. It is on pace to rack up more than $34 million over its first three days and may cross $40 million over the four day stretch. Heading into the weekend, the film, which sees Alexander Skarsgård don Tarzan's loincloth in order to battle some nasty colonialists, was expected to rack up $35 million over the holiday. Don't move "The Legend of Tarzan" into the win column just yet. Its $180 million price tag still means that Warner Bros. is looking at a write-down unless foreign audiences turn out in force.
Then there's "The BFG," which earned $7 million on Friday and is projected to bring in a disastrous $21 million over the three day weekend and a paltry $25 million over the four day holiday. Disney, Walden Media, and Amblin Entertainment backed the $140 million project, betting that pairing Spielberg with Roald Dahl's children's fable about a friendly giant who befriends a lonely girl would reap dividends.
See photos of Steven Spielberg through the years:
Steven Spielberg through the years
Steven Spielberg through the years
Film director Steven Spielberg poses with alien character E.T. in London, Dec. 1982. (AP Photo/Press Association)
Film director Steven Spielberg is seen at the 35th Cannes International Film Festival, May 26, 1982. The American director is here for the presentation of "E.T., The Extraterrestrial." (AP Photo/Jean-Jacques Levy)
Moviemakers Steven Spielberg, left, and George Lucas , the two men responsible for the six most popular films of all time are shown Wednesday, May 16, 1984 during festivities at Mann's Chiness theatre in Hollywood.(AP Photo/Wally Fong)
Steven Spielberg, Film director-producer. (AP-Photo/ho/NBC) 1985
Film director Steven Spielberg gestures toward graduates who hold signs calling for divestment as they protest investments in South Africa, during commencement exercises at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., May 18, 1986. Spielberg received an honorary doctor of creative arts degree during the ceremony. Man at left is unidentified. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Film director Steven Spielberg, who loves animated cartoons, announced in Los Angeles that he will join forces with Warner Bros. for a new television version of Warner's famous "Merrie Melodies," to be called "Tiny Toons," Jan. 4, 1989. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
Steven Spielberg, right, presents George Lucas the Irving Thalberg award for Constantly High Standards of Film Production onstage on Monday, March 30, 1992 at the 64th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Craig Fujii)
Film director Steven Spielberg is pictured in his hotel room at the Ritz Carlton in New York, Dec. 1993. (AP Photo/Tim Rasmussen)
Steven Spielberg holds Oscar he won for Best Director and Best Picture for his film "Schindler's list" at the 66th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles Monday, March 21, 1994. (AP-Photo/Douglas C. Pizac) 21.3.1994
Oscar-winning film director Steven Spielberg testifies on Capitol Hill before the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, which was holding hearings on the implementation of the Hate Crime Statistics Act, June 28, 1994 in Washington. (AP Photo/John Duricka)
President Clinton listens to Starbright Chairman, director Steven Spielberg, at the Children's Hospital National Medical Center in Washington Thursday, Oct. 30,1997, during a demonstration of Starlight World, an online computer network that links seriously ill children in hospitals across the country. Vice President Gore is at left. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Director Steven Spielberg poses with his wife, Kate Capshaw outside the premiere of the new DreamWorks film, "Saving Private Ryan" Tuesday, July 21, 1998, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Rene Macura)
Director Steven Spielberg describing an encounter with late director Stanley Kubrick during at a tribute in Los Angeles, Sunday, May 16, 1999. Kubrick, who died in March at 70, was remembered during a tribute for him by the Directors Guild of America. (AP Photo/E. J. Flynn)
US movie star Tom Cruise, left, and US director Steven Spielberg pose during a photo call before a media conference to present their latest film "Minority Report" in Berlin on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2002. They stay for a charity film premiere in Berlin to support reconstruction of a day nursery, which was flooded by the swollen Elbe river in August 2002, in eastern German state of Saxony. (AP Photo/ Jan Bauer)
Film director Steven Spielberg poses for photographers after receiving the 2,210th star in front of the Kodak Theater on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, Friday, Jan. 10, 2003. Spielberg's latest film is "Catch Me if You Can." (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Former President Bill Clinton, right, holds Shoah Foundation's Ambassadors for Humanity Award after it was presented to him by producer/director Steven Spielberg, who is the founding chairman of the Shoah Foundation, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005, at DreamWorks in Universal City, Calif. The foundation works around the world to enhance tolerance through outreach and education. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Steven Spielberg arrives at the premiere of "Memoirs of a Geisha" in Los Angeles on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005. Spielberg was a producer of "Memoirs of a Geisha." (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
U.S. director Steven Spielberg listens to a journalist's question at a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006. Spielberg presented a documentary by Ukrainian director Serhiy Bukovsky, "Spell Your Name" which Spielberg is a co-executive producer. The film is about the Nazi massacre of Jews at the Babi Yar ravine. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Director Martin Scorsese, left, holds his award for Best Director for "The Departed" backstage with Steven Spielberg at the 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Monday, Jan. 15, 2007, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Steven Spielberg poses at the 59th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Director Steven Spielberg holds his tassel before receiving an honorary degree during Boston University's graduation ceremony, Sunday, May 17, 2009, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
Steven Spielberg, an executive producer of "The Pacific," poses at the premiere of the ten-part HBO miniseries in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Directors Steven Spielberg, left, and Peter Jackson pose for a portrait at Comic Con in San Diego, Calif., on Friday, July 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)
Movie director Steven Spielberg reacts after signing a promotional train livery, in Paris Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. ahead of the world premiere of the Belgian cartoon hero Tintin movie "The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn", (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
Director Steven Spielberg arrives on the red carpet for the UK Premiere of 'War Horse' in aid of âThe Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harryâ, at a central London cinema, London, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
Steven Spielberg attends the AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Shirley MacLaine at Sony Studios on June 7, 2012 in Culver City, Calif. The AFI Lifetime Achievement Honoring Shirley MacLaine airs on June 24, 2012 at 9pm on TV Land. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Steven Spielberg appears on stage at the 63rd Annual "ACE Eddie Awards" at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Director and jury president Steven Spielberg speaks during the opening ceremony ahead of the screening of The Great Gatsby at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 15, 2013. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg poses at the Museum of Natural History before the Ambassadors For Humanity Gala on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Steven Spielberg attends the New York Film Festival "Bridge of Spies" premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
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But Spielberg isn't the draw he once was, particularly with younger audiences. Although he made a name for himself with crowd pleasers such as "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and "Jaws," he's spent the better part of the last decade churning out historical dramas like "Lincoln" and "Bridge of Spies" that appeal to older crowds. Critics liked "The BFG," but the strong reviews won't save the film from being one of the biggest flops of Spielberg's career and of the summer.
The failure of "The Legend of Tarzan" and "The BFG" provided a clear runway for Universal's "The Purge: Election Year." The third film in the horror franchise follows a presidential candidate (Elizabeth Mitchell) who is campaigning to end Purge night, an annual evening of legally-sanctioned lawlessness.
James DeMonaco, who directed the other two Purge films, returns, along with Frank Grill, who starred in the previous installment, "The Purge: Anarchy." The film is another micro-budget success for Blumhouse, costing a mere $10 million to produce. After leading the Friday box office with $14.5 million, it could end the weekend with a healthy $33 million in receipts and $37 million over the four day holiday. That's something to celebrate.