LOS ANGELES, March 31, (Variety.com) – Disney’s “Dumbo” had an underwhelming liftoff at the domestic box office. Tim Burton’s live-action remake debuted with $45 million from 4,259 North American theaters, below expectations heading into the weekend.
While that was easily enough to top the domestic box office, it marks the lowest start among the studio’s recent live-action remakes of Disney classics. To compare, 2017′s “Beauty and the Beast” debuted with $174 million, 2016′s “The Jungle Book” opened with $103 million,” and 2015′s “Cinderella” launched with $67 million.
Heading into the weekend, “Dumbo” was expected to surpass $50 million in its first three days of release. Part of the reason for the softer opening is likely because the original “Dumbo” cartoon came out 80 years ago, making the lovable elephant seem slightly less relevant than classics like “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Jungle Book,” which both became huge successes for the studio.
“Dumbo” carries a $170 million production budget. The high-flying elephant will have to resonate overseas should “Dumbo” not pick up steam at the domestic box office. The movie launched in most international territories this weekend, amassing $71 million from foreign markets for a global start of $116 million.
Audiences were more receptive than critics to Tim Burton’s take on baby elephant with inconveniently large ears. Moviegoers awarded “Dumbo” with an A- Cinemascore. It holds a 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. As expected, families made up 54 percent of opening weekend crowds. It also skewed slightly female: 53 percent of patrons were women.
“Dumbo” is the first of three high-profile Disney re-imaginings heading back to the big screen this year, with Guy Richie’s “Aladdin” and Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King” arriving in theaters this summer. Those films, along with the studio’s highly anticipated superhero mashup “Avengers: Endgame,” will likely offset any pain should “Dumbo” fail to connect with audiences.
Last weekend’s champ “Us” dropped to second place, staying strong with $33 million in its sophomore outing. That marks a 53% decline from its opening weekend haul, a solid hold given the kind of drop horror movies typically suffer after its initial release. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, “Us” has now surpassed $128 million in ticket sales in North America. The film, which stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as a couple forced to fight off blood-thirsty doppelgangers, cost $20 million to produce.
In third place, Disney’s “Captain Marvel” added another $20 million in its third weekend of release. That takes the superhero tentpole starring Brie Larson past $350 million in North America.
New release “Unplanned” will battle with romance drama “Five Feet Apart” for fourth place. Both titles earned roughly $6 million this weekend.
“Unplanned,” which tells the true story of a Planned Parenthood employee who has a life-changing experience, doubled expectations that pegged an opening weekend around $3 million. It cost $6 million to produce.
Lionsgate and CBS Films’ “Five Feet Apart,” now in its third weekend of release, has earned $35 million to date.
Elsewhere, Matthew McConaughey suffered the worst opening of his career with “The Beach Bum.” Directed by Harmony Korine, the film flopped with $1.8 million from 1,100 screens. The studios initially planned for a platform release, which could have slowly allowed the film to gain traction through word-of-mouth. Instead, the stoner comedy opened nationwide with little marketing since its premiere at South by Southwest. It’s been a rocky start to 2019 for McConaughey. Earlier this year, his film “Serenity,” a neo-noir thriller with Anne Hathaway, collapsed with a $4.5 million debut. It tapped out with $11.4 million worldwide.