Will ‘Finding Dory’ Swim Past ‘Zootopia’ to Become Biggest Animated Opener of 2016?

Sequel to 2003’s “Finding Nemo” is looking at a debut around $125 million

Last Updated: June 14, 2016 @ 5:46 PM

“Finding Dory,” the highly anticipated sequel to 2003’s “Finding Nemo,” is picking up enough steam that box office experts believe it could surpass “Zootopia” to become the biggest animated opener of 2016.

“‘Finding Dory’ has a strong chance to pass ‘Zootopia‘s’ box office haul,” said BoxOffice.com senior analyst Shawn Robbins. “The generational appeal of the film should bring out parents and kids from a wide age range throughout the summer. Very positive early reviews are also backing up the expectation for typical Pixar staying power.”

And, yes, reviews have been extremely positive: “Finding Dory” has a score of 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, while “Zootopia” has a “fresh” rating of 98 percent on the review aggregator. BoxOffice.com forecasts a $133 million opening for “Finding Dory;” March’s “Zootopia” opened to $75 million and has grossed just over $1 billion worldwide.

Bruce Nash, founder of The Numbers, says $100 million is the benchmark for “Finding Dory,” while other early tracking numbers suggest a $125 million opening.

“I think it will be very close, but my money is on ‘Finding Dory’ just overtaking ‘Zootopia,'” said Nash. “Both films have excellent reviews and target roughly the same audience, but ‘Finding Dory’ has three advantages.”

Those advantages, according to Nash, are: 1. It’s a Pixar film, “which brings in a slightly bigger audience;” 2. It’s “the sequel to ‘Finding Nemo,’ which was huge when it came out;” and 3. “It’s being released in the prime summer season.”

“A $350 million domestic total and $700 million international would give it $1.050 billion worldwide … just enough to overtake ‘Zootopia,‘” he added. “Finding Nemo,” for example, grossed $380 million domestically and $555.9 million internationally.

Robbins also added that tracking is well ahead of past Pixar titles. The highest grossing Pixar movie was “Toy Story 3” in 2010, which raked in $110.3 million on opening weekend and $415 million domestically. “Finding Dory” would even surpass Disney hit “Inside Out,” which opened to $90.4 million last year and earned $356.5 million domestically.

The senior analyst believes “Finding Dory” even has a shot of surpassing the debut of DreamWorks’ “Shrek the Third,” which grossed $121.6 million in 2007. Adjusted for inflation, the third “Shrek” film made $139.6 million on its opening weekend.

“Tracking is noticeably ahead of past Pixar titles, social media buzz is through the roof, Disney remains at the top of their game and the first film is perceived as a modern classic,” Robbins said. “All of these indicators point to ‘Dory’ having an excellent shot at surpassing ‘Shrek the Third’ as the top animated opener of all-time.”

“Finding Dory,” featuring the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton and Albert Brooks, opens this Friday against Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart‘s “Central Intelligence.”