Finding Dory, the sequel to the Oscar-winning Disney-Pixar film Finding Nemo, raked in a massive $136.2 million debut last week, setting a new domestic Box Office record for an animated film.
The opening weekend results were supported by strong reviews and the nostalgic affection brought by the first film, which itself had earned $936 million globally during its 2003 run.
Previously, the record-holder for the top domestic launch of an animated film was Shrek The Third. Produced by DreamWorks Animation, the movie earned $121.6 million during its debut in 2007. And until now, Pixar's highest-earning opening film was Toy Story 3, which raised $110.3 million in 2010.
Finding Dory is the only animated film to land at the overall list of Top 20 openings, now ranking Top 18.
Making A Gigantic Splash At The Box Office
The Disney-Pixar film is a much-needed boost for the summer box office, which has been sluggish in recent weeks. Several high-profile films such as Alice Through The Looking Glass and Warcraft, as well as the sequel X-Men: Apocalypse, have churned out underwhelming numbers.
"We needed a box office hero and we got one with this little fish," says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at comScore.
Finding Dory received an A CinemaScore — making it the 17th consecutive Pixar film to receive some variation of the grade.
On June 17, the film hauled $55.2 million, which also marked the largest earnings in a single day for an animated film, eclipsing the $47 million record of Shrek The Third.
The movie also ranks as the second-best June debut, just right behind Jurassic World, which earned $208.8 million during the opening.
Internationally, Finding Dory added another $50 million from 29 international markets, including China, where its $17.5 million opening marks the biggest ever for a Pixar release.
Could There Be A Part Three?
The movie features a blue tang fish named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) with short-term memory loss and her quest to find her long-lost parents. Initially accompanied by Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence), Dory experiences an adventure of her own.
While families made up a chunk of the audience at 65 percent, adults also turned out in force at 26 percent, while teens made up the remaining 9 percent.
"In a funny way, the 13-year separation between the first and second movie was serendipitous," says Dave Hollis, chief of domestic distribution for Disney. He says the gap was part of what pulled viewers into the story.
Could there be a sequel to Finding Dory?
Although Disney or Pixar has not made any official statement about the matter, it is important to determine how Finding Nemo's success was addressed in 2003.
The film's director/writer Andrew Stanton says there had been zero discussion of a sequel during the post-production of Finding Nemo.
"We've never had those kind of discussions here," says Stanton. He says the only time executives discussed sequels was between Michael Eisner and Steve Jobs, and it was about Toy Story 2 and 3.
Stanton tells Entertainment Weekly that he thinks every plot that extended from Finding Nemo is "wrapped up."
"But we'll see," he adds.