“Jurassic World Dominion” was the apex predator at the domestic box office this weekend, opening to $143.4 million, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.
Internationally, the latest film in the “Jurassic” franchise earned $176.6 million this weekend for a global cumulative of $389.1 million.
“Top Gun: Maverick” declined only 44% in its third weekend with an estimated $50 million to take second place, bringing its North American total north of $393.3 million.
The strong debut highlights the continued recovery of the box office this summer driven by such blockbusters as “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and now “Jurassic World 3.”
“A rare pandemic-era occurrence happened this weekend where we had two blockbusters at the top of the chart instead of just one film dominating,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.
“We finally have a summer movie season … after two years where it almost didn’t exist.”
The “Jurassic World” and “Top Gun” franchises date back about three decades, which could have lured older moviegoers — who were initially reluctant to return to theaters during the pandemic — back to the cinema. Nearly half of the audience for “Dominion” was 18 to 34 years old, while 31% were 35 and above.
With the highly anticipated — and highly marketed — homecomings of original “Jurassic Park” stars Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern, “Dominion” has made a concerted effort to attract both old and new fans of the dino saga.
“Despite the critical thrashing the movie’s taking, this is one of those situations where [there’s a] disconnect between the critics and the audience, for whom just seeing those original characters … back on screen was enough to get them psyched to go out to the movie theater,” Dergarabedian said.
“If you’re trying to draw the more mature moviegoers who may have seen the first [‘Jurassic Park’] back in 1993, you’re gonna have to … spotlight the fact that you’re going to have a lot of the original stars in this new movie. And that’s done a lot … where that’s really the selling point, but that doesn’t always mean the movie is going to make good box office.”
This weekend is only the third of the pandemic era in which the total domestic box office surpassed $200 million, according to Comscore.
“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.
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.
“The underlying story, all the way back to Michael Crichton’s book [‘Jurassic Park’], is intriguing for audiences — that dinosaurs could live among us, and what would that mean?” said Jim Orr, president of domestic distribution at Universal.
“The films themselves have delivered tremendously on that premise, including … ‘Jurassic World Dominion,’ which takes us to a completely different level where they not only are among us, but they … existing around the entire world.”
Despite its consistent blockbuster performance, the “Jurassic World” trilogy has seen diminishing box office returns since the flagship revival film opened to $208.8 million in 2015 — the biggest domestic launch ever at the time.
The second “Jurassic World” movie, “Fallen Kingdom,” launched at $148 million in 2018, while the latest sequel finished just shy of that number in third place.
Potentially informing “Dominion’s” slightly weaker showing was the abysmal critical response to the dino epic. (The Times’ Justin Chang called it “an underimagined, overlong goodbye to this phase … of a blockbuster franchise that’s overdue for extinction.”) But audiences seem to be enjoying themselves based on exit polls.
Moviegoers gave it an A- CinemaScore and an 81% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, suggesting that word of mouth will be strong in the coming weeks. The film opened on 4,676 screens in the U.S and Canada and cost a reported $185 million to produce, not accounting for marketing and promotion.
“While it might not be catnip for critics, it certainly was for the audience, who came out in bigger-than-expected numbers,” Dergarabedian said.
“Part of this is experiential. … Even if the critics don’t love it, the audience is still getting a kick out of that old-school moviegoing experience.”
Contrast that phenomenon with “Top Gun,” which was championed by critics and recently sustained the lowest drop in ticket sales in its sophomore weekend of any movie that has launched at $100 million or more. For “Dominion,” weekend No. 2 will be the real test, Dergarabedian said.
“‘Top Gun’ is holding up incredibly well … because the movie is so good and agreed upon between both critics and audiences,” Dergarabedian said. “That’s generally a recipe for long-term success.”
Another critically acclaimed title that has exhibited a remarkable amount of staying power is Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which landed in seventh place in its 12th weekend at the domestic box office.
The Michelle Yeoh-starring fantasy drama — which added $1.3 million this weekend for a North American cumulative of $63 million — has officially surpassed “Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” as A24’s highest-grossing movie worldwide, according to Deadline.
“If you look at Michelle Yeoh and the other actors in the piece … it’s so refreshing to see people doing what they’re doing — having that kind of action element — but also, you’re bringing the left brain and the right brain together in this movie, and the critics love it,” Dergarabedian said.
Ahead of its release, filmmakers said “Dominion” is intended to be the last of the “Jurassic World” films, which have been enormously profitable with over $3 billion in ticket sales. The first earned over $1.7 billion globally alone. Including the original “Jurassic Park” trilogy, that number skyrockets to $5 billion.
Given its box-office dominance, will “Dominion” really be the final “Jurassic” adventure?
“We’ll see now with these numbers,” Dergarabedian said. “The dinosaurs may not be extinct after all.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.