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 out and about
Steven Spielberg out and about
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: Steven Spielberg attends 'Five Came Back' world premiere at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on March 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Chance Yeh/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw attend 'Five Came Back' world premiere at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on March 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Chance Yeh/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Glenn Close as 'Norma Desmond' and Steven Spielberg pose backstage at the matinee of the hit musical 'Sunset Boulevard' on Broadway at The Palace Theater on February 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 08: Founder, USC Shoah Foundation Steven Spielberg (L) and honoree George Lucas attend Ambassadors for Humanity Gala Benefiting USC Shoah Foundation at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on December 8, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 08: Founder, USC Shoah Foundation Steven Spielberg speaks onstage during Ambassadors for Humanity Gala Benefiting USC Shoah Foundation at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on December 8, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw are seen on October 25, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gardiner Anderson/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Kate Capshaw, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Rita Wilson at theThe Museum of Modern Art Film Benefit: A Tribute to Tom Hanks at The Museum of Modern Art on November 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 10: American director Steven Spielberg attends promotional event for his film 'Big Friendly Giant' at Tsinghua University on October 10, 2016 in Beijing, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 17: Mark Rylance and Steven Spielberg arrive for the UK film premiere of 'The BFG' at Odeon Leicester Square on July 17, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 21: Composer John Williams (L) and director Steven Spielberg arrive at the premiere of Disney's 'The BFG' at the El Capitan Theatre on June 21, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 21: Steven Spielberg arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of Disney's 'The BFG' held at the El Capitan Theatre on June 21, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 09: Actress Kate Capshaw and director Steven Spielberg attend the 44th AFI Life Achievement Awards gala tribute at Dolby Theatre on June 9, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 09: Director Steven Spielberg onstage during American Film Instituteï¿½s 44th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute show to John Williams at Dolby Theatre on June 9, 2016 in Hollywood, California. 26148_001 (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Turner)
CAMBRIDGE, MA - MAY 26: Steven Spielberg receives an Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree from Harvard University at their 365th Commencement Exerices at Harvard University on May 26, 2016 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 19: Director Steven Spielberg stops by the set of 'Rebel in the Rye' on May 19, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/GC Images)
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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.