Earlier this week, we projected that Disney Pixar's Finding Dory was on track to take in a predicted $116 million in its opening weekend at the box office. While we'll have to wait until Sunday morning to see if those numbers hold up, the animated sequel has already broken a record at the box office in its Thursday night sneak preview screenings. Finding Dory has taken in an estimated $9.2 million on Thursday night, the highest total ever for an animated movie.
Deadline reports that this tally shatters the previous record set by Universal's Minions, which earned $6.2 million from Thursday screenings last summer, en route to a $115.7 million opening weekend. It's possible that, with this strong start on Thursday, Finding Dory could break the record for the biggest opening weekend ever for an animated movie, set by DreamWorks Animation's Shrek the Third ($121.6 million) in 2007. Finding Dory's $9.2 million mark also bested Pixar's Toy Story 3 ($4 million, $110.3 million opening weekend) and last summer's Inside Out ($3.7 million, $90.4 million opening weekend).
Finding Dory will also have the widest release in Pixar history, opening in 4,305 theaters. The animated sequel has been getting rave reviews, with an impressive 95% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes heading into the weekend. This Pixar film is a follow-up to 2003's Finding Nemo, which follows the forgetful fish Dory (Ellen Degeneres) as she goes on a quest to find her mom (Diane Keaton) and dad (Eugene Levy). The voice cast also includes Albert Brooks, Ty Burrell, Willem Dafoe, Idris Elba, Dominic West and Ed O'Neil.
Also opening this weekend is Warner Bros.' action-comedy Central Intelligence, starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. The movie opened with $1.8 million last night, with projections putting the movie's opening weekend between $25 million and $30 million. Central Intelligence's Thursday frame is quite similar to other action comedies such as Spy ($1.5 million Thursday, $29.1 million opening), Get Hard ($1.8 million Thursday, $33.8 million opening) and The Heat ($1 million Thursday, $39.1 million opening).
As for Dory and the rest of these lovable ocean creatures, they're shaping up to take home the fourth highest opening weekend this year, behind 20th Century Fox's Deadpool ($132.4 million), Warner Bros. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($166.7 million) and Marvel's Captain America: Civil War ($179.1 million). We'll have to wait and see if this success could spawn a third Dory/Nemo movie, but we'll have to wait and see. Be sure to check back on Sunday for the box office estimates, to see how Finding Dory fared in theaters this weekend.