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‘Finding Dory’ Beats ‘Independence Day’ Sequel at Friday Box Office

”The Shallows“ on pace to double expectations with $6.9 million Friday

It’s a battle between two long-anticipated sequels in the race for No. 1 this weekend, with Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Dory” emerging the victor on Friday with $23.2 million from 4,305 screens.

The animated feature, which broke records during last weekend’s opener, came in ahead of 20th Century Fox’s “Independence Day: Resurgence,” which grossed $16.8 million on Friday during its debut weekend, playing in 4,066 theaters.

Columbia Pictures shark thriller “The Shallows” is pacing far ahead of expectations, earning $6.9 million on Friday alone — just under initial predictions of its entire weekend take.

In its second-weekend, New Line Cinema’s “Central Intelligence” came in fourth place on Friday with $5.7 million, beating STX Entertainment’s “Free State of Jones,” which grossed $2.7 million.

On Thursday, “Independence Day: Resurgence” earned $4 million from approximately 3,200 locations.

The original “Independence Day” was produced for $75 million and made $817 million worldwide in 1996. It opened to $50 million on the July 4th weekend that year, and the sequel is expected to hit the same number this year.

However, “Resurgence” was made for $165 million. It currently holds a score of 34 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a B CinemaScore — indicating somewhat low audience anticipation among those surveyed.

“Independence Day: Resurgence,” again directed by Roland Emmerich, features much of the original cast, including, Jeff GoldblumVivica A. Fox and Bill Pullman, along with new addition Liam Hemsworth.

“The Shallows,” starring Blake Lively, swam to a solid $1.33 million at the Thursday previews. It’s now on track to finish the weekend with more than $17 million against its $17 million production budget. It’s playing on 2,962 screens.

The low-budget PG-13 shark attack thriller stars Lively as a surfer and is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, whose 2009 “Orphan” reflected his foray into Hitchcockian suspense. It has a 75 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and a B+ CinemaScore.

STX Entertainment’s “Free State of Jones” starring Matthew McConaughey is also being released in theaters this Friday.

The Civil War-era movie about Newton Knight’s armed rebellion against the Confederacy should come in above $10 million from 2,815 screens. It was made for $50 million.

Reviews are currently at 40 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and it has a solid A- CinemaScore.

Nicolas Winding Refn‘s horror film “The Neon Demon” is also opening via Broad Green and Amazon. The film had its world premiere at Cannes Film Festival and is looking to come in around $3 million.

The film stars Elle Fanning as an aspiring model in Los Angeles. “Neon Demon” is only opening in 770 locations.

“Finding Dory” is expected to keep swimming this weekend, looking to take in an additional $60 million.