Box Office: ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Nabs Dino-Mite $143 Million Weekend

Universal and Amblin’s Jurassic World Dominion devoured the competition this weekend, debuting in North America with a $143.37 million domestic launch (including $12.3 million in IMAX). That’s bigger than the $126 million Fri-Sun launch of Top Gun: Maverick (during a $160.5 million Fri-Mon debut) and the $134 million launch of The Batman, coming it just below only Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($187 million) and Spider-Man: No Way Home ($260 million) among all Covid-era debuts. Moreover, despite a Covid curve and understandable “folks are less curious than they were four years ago” variables, it opened almost on par with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($148 million) in June of 2018. It’s also Universal’s biggest opening since Jurassic World 2 and their fourth-largest debut weekend behind Furious 7 ($147 million in 2015) and the last two Jurassic World movies ($148 million in 2018 and a then-record $209 million in 2015).

The legacy sequel to Jurassic Park, which was also a trilogy capper to the Jurassic World films, brought together the new cast (Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Isabella Sermon) and the original trio (Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum) in an “it all ends here” series (or at least “season”) finale. The 90’s nostalgia probably canceled out some potential franchise disinterest while appealing to audiences too old to still get excited about the mere prospect of dinosaurs. Yes, the reviews were grim, but A) most Jurassic sequels got lousy reviews and B) audiences have always showed up anyway. Like the Transformers films and the 007 series, if the bad reviews assure audiences that they’ll get the franchise-specific tropes, they’ll show up. Call it “the Spectre test.” Spectre is among the worst 007 movies, but it still has all the franchise’s fixings.

Jurassic World: Dominion got an A- from Cinemascore, same as Fallen Kingdom and just below the A grades for Jurassic World and (29 years ago) Jurassic Park. The Jurassic series has always been underrated in the online bubbles, as audiences really do show up in large numbers and enjoy themselves enough to tell their friends. The Internet likes to pretend that Jurassic World is one of the all-time worst mega-blockbusters, but A) audiences gave it a bigger opening, longer legs and a larger domestic and overseas gross than The Avengers and B) there’s a clear difference between Jurassic World and Fantastic Four or Terminator: Genisys. Back in the day, we didn’t expect big-budget monster movies to get good reviews, nor did we consider it evidence of a culture war when audiences liked “Dinosaur Park 6” or “Giant Fighting Robots 4” more than the critics.

Like Michael Bay’s Transformers films, the Jurassic series supplies specific elements that audiences can’t get anywhere else, even in other mega-bucks franchises. One skewed side effect of Hollywood spending a decade chasing the commercial and critical glories of The Dark Knight and The Avengers is that the Jurassic franchise is now even more of a unique-unto-itself cinematic franchise. It’s not about superheroes or one-man-armies who might as well be super heroic (James Bond, John Wick, Dom Toretto, Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt, etc.), but rather about regular people in extraordinary circumstances. Oh, and you get to see dinosaurs fighting each other and eating people, which you cannot (yet) get in The Batman or Top Gun: Maverick. Honestly, Dominion flirts with playing in the same sandbox as its rivals (there’s a lot of franchise history and our heroes must “save the world”), but it’s not yet a dealbreaker.

The $185 million film, directed by Colin Trevorrow (who was supposed to direct Star Wars: Episode IX before everyone overreacted to his “one for me” original The Book of Henry) and penned by Trevorrow, Emily Carmichael and Derek Connelly, has $245.8 million overseas for a $389.17 million global cume (including $25 million from IMAX and $90 million from 3-D auditoriums). It opened with $52.5 million in China, about half of what Fallen Kingdom ($111 million) and Jurassic World ($99 million) did. That’s more about China’s decreasing ability to deliver blockbuster grosses for most Hollywood tentpoles. An over/under $130 million finish in China still qualifies as an advantage over its tentpole competition. It is still likely to be summer’s biggest global grosser and to cross $1 billion. Strong audience scores and a lack of tentpoles may mean legs closer to Jurassic World 2 (2.82x, which would be $404 million) than Venom 2 (2.38x, which would be $342 million).

For a movie everyone allegedly hated the $170 million Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom earned $5 million domestically ($417 million) than Wonder Woman and $38 million less worldwide ($1.31 billion) than Black Panther with a fraction of the free media and online proselytization. That J.A. Bayona-directed sequel opened slowly worldwide to avoid the World Cup. Jurassic World earned $652 million domestic and $1.671 billion worldwide from a $208 million domestic/$524 million global debut. Apples and oranges perhaps, but that would give Dominion a $447 million domestic and $1.24 billion global cume. Even legs akin to F9 ($173 million/$70 million) in North America would give it $354 million. Moreover, with almost no consensus pick/second choice live-action tentpoles left this season, Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World: Dominion may run the tables alongside Thor: Love & Thunder (and, relatively speaking, Nope, Elvis and Bullet Train) all summer long.

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