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Dinosaurs rule again at box office

Lindsey Bahr

AP – Jurassic World: Dominion took a mighty bite out of the box office with USD143.4 million in North American ticket sales, according to studio estimates on Sunday. Including earnings from international showings – the film opened in various markets last weekend – Jurassic World: Dominion, released globally by Universal Pictures, has already grossed USD389 million. And it’s just getting started.

“We couldn’t be happier,” said Universal’s head of domestic distribution Jim Orr. “Jurassic World: Dominion had a very broad and ridiculously enthusiastic audience.”

The hefty haul is yet another sign that the box office is continuing to rebound this summer. With the blockbuster successes of films like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Top Gun: Maverick and now Jurassic World 3, audiences are coming back to movie theatres more consistently.

The film, which had a reported USD185 million price tag not accounting for marketing and promotion costs, opened on 4,676 screens in the United States (US) and Canada, starting with preview showings on Thursday. Audiences were 56 per cent male and 54 per cent over the age of 25, according to Universal.

Critics were not kind to the dino extravaganza, but audiences seem to be enjoying themselves based on exit polls. Moviegoers gave it an A- CinemaScore and an 81 per cent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, suggesting that word of mouth will be strong in the coming weeks.

Chris Pratt in a scene from ‘Jurassic World Dominion’. PHOTO: AP

“You want to see dinosaurs on the big screen, it doesn’t matter what critics thought,” said the senior media analyst for Comscore Paul Dergarabedian.

And many moviegoers did opt for the biggest screens possible. Globally, IMAX showings of Jurassic World: Dominion represented USD25 million of the total. The 3D format also accounted for around 25 per cent of worldwide ticket sales.

“The appetite for the colossal creatures in this franchise is still voracious, and the way audiences want to experience this movie is in 3D,” said the CEO and president of Cinema for RealD Travis Reid in a statement. Both Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World: Dominion are an important caveat for an industry that continues to learn new lessons about pandemic-era moviegoing every week. Although both films are legacy sequels, neither are of the superhero variety, which, for a long time, had seemed like the only pandemic-proof genre.

Top Gun: Maverick is still coasting in rarefied skies too: It fell only 44 per cent in its third weekend with an estimated USD50 million to take second place, bringing its North American total north of USD393.3 million. Doctor Strange 2, in its sixth weekend, was a distant third with USD4.9 million.

This weekend is only the third of the pandemic era in which the total domestic box office surpassed USD200 million, according to box office tracker Comscore. The others were Spider Man: No Way Home, in December, and Doctor Strange 2, in May. But this is the first time there has been space for two movies to do well.

“Pretty much all the big blockbuster weekends that we’ve had over the pandemic have been dominated by one movie,” Dergarabedian said. “In this case, we have two big blockbusters in theatres at once. This is the recipe for success that theatre owners have been waiting for over the course of the pandemic. It’s an important milestone.”

Dominion, a co-production of Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, is the third film in the Jurassic World trilogy, which began in 2015 and introduced characters played by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. The newest installment brings back actors Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum from Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Jurassic Park.

Colin Trevorrow, who stewarded the World trilogy and directed the first film, returned to direct Dominion, in which dinosaurs are no longer contained and locusts are threatening the world’s food supply.