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Here’s Why the ‘Independence Day’ Sequel Isn’t a Total Flop

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCEINDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
Fox's "Independence Day: Resurgence" failed to live up to expectations with its domestic opening weekend.Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Getting lapped by a bunch of week-old fish and failing to beat its predecessor’s opening weekend numbers certainly seemed like enough to earn Independence Day: Resurgence the dreaded “flop” label after the big-budget movie’s disappointing U.S. debut last weekend.

But, as we head into the holiday weekend with which the movie shares its name, the sequel to the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day is actually well-positioned to easily top its reported production budget of $165 million with its overall worldwide box office gross, despite the fact that Resurgence failed to make much of a splash in its North American debut. The movie—which comes 20 years after the original and brings back much of the original cast, minus megastar Will Smith—made only $41.6 million domestically in its first weekend in theaters, falling well short of blocking Walt Disney’s animated sequel Finding Dory ($73.2 million domestically) from claiming its second-straight weekend box-office title.

Embarrassingly, the domestic opening for Independence Day: Resurgence didn’t even gross as much as the 1996 original’s debut haul before taking ticket-price inflation into account (the first Independence Day opened to $50.2 million domestically, which becomes $97.5 million with inflation). Various publications have already happily labeled Resurgence a “flop” and a “bomb,” while critics have more or less panned the film, which currently has a 33% “fresh rating” on Rotten Tomatoes (compared to the original’s 62% rating).

There is no doubt that Resurgence is a disappointment for 20th Century Fox, as well as for fans, but it is worth noting that the movie’s unimpressive North American debut did not stop it from topping all movies last weekend in worldwide box office, thanks to a $102 million haul overseas, according to ComScore. That strong international debut gave Resurgence an overall opening gross of $143.7 million, which should allow the film to easily top $200 million in global box office after the upcoming holiday weekend (even if it sees a week two sales drop-off of more than 50%).

Now, none of this erases the fact that Fox would have obviously preferred a much bigger domestic opening for Resurgence, especially with no major blockbusters likely to be among this weekend’s new releases. (Disney’s The BFG and Warner Bros’ The Legend of Tarzan are the biggest names, but both could also fall short of Finding Dory, which is a summer powerhouse with almost $400 million in global box office over a couple of weeks.)

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A decent comparison for Resurgence is Terminator: Genisys, last year’s disappointing franchise reboot from Viacom’s Paramount, which didn’t even crack $90 million in domestic box office but still made more than $350 million overseas. Terminator: Genisys was far from a glowing success, but it did surprisingly well in China, a booming movie market where Resurgence already made $37 million last week.

Resurgence is sure to fall well short of being the box-office behemoth its predecessor was in 1996—when Independence Day made more than $300 million domestically, along with another $500 million overseas. But, the sequel should still ride a decent international box office gross to avoid becoming a financial disaster for Fox and maybe even shake off the “flop” label.