Tim Burton is looking at around a $45 million opening for Disney’s live-action version of Dumbo this weekend, which is actually one of Burton’s better openings, behind only Alice and Wonderland ($116 million), Planet of the Apes ($60 million) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ($56 million) and even with the $45 million opening of 1992’s Batman Begins. In fact, it’s the best opening for Burton in nearly a decade, since the 2010 release of Alice in Wonderland. The problem is, Dumbo had the full might of Disney behind it, plus a $170 million production budget, so not only is $45 million not particularly impressive, it’s less than the already tempered expectations the studio had for the film (early projections had it reaching $50 million).
It’s a somewhat disappointing opening, but not one that is likely to put much of a dent in Disney’s bottom line. Tim Burton typically does very well overseas, where Disney is likely to make up a lot of the difference. Still, the reviews have not been of much help (52 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), although audiences do seem to enjoy it (an A- Cinemascore). I’m not entirely sure why Dumbo isn’t playing as well as some of Disney’s other live-action remakes, but I suspect it’s because the Dumbo character is not as popular as many of the other characters in the Disney stable, and there were no huge stars to make up the difference (Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito and Eva Green are all well known, but not exactly box-office commodities).
It’ll be interesting to see how Dumbo plays in the coming weeks, with Shazam! eating in to the older kid demographic next week and Missing Link going head to head with Dumbo the following week ahead of Spring vacation for a lot of schools.