‘Jurassic World’ sequel stomps its way to $150 million debut

NEW YORK (AP) — The dinosaurs still rule the box office.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” surpassed expectations to open with $150 million in ticket sales in U.S. and Canada theaters over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. While that total didn’t approach the record-breaking $208.8 million debut of 2015’s “Jurassic World,” it proved the 25-year-old franchise still roars loudly among moviegoers.

It also gave Hollywood its first back-to-back $100 million-plus openings in a non-holiday period. After opening with $182.7 million last week, Pixar’s acclaimed sequel “Incredibles 2” slid 56 percent in its second week, with an $80.9 million haul.

The combined firepower of “Fallen Kingdom” and “Incredibles 2” fueled $280 million in total ticket sales, making it Hollywood’s fourth-biggest overall weekend ever, not accounting for inflation. Business was roughly double what it was the same June weekend last year, according to comScore.

“The normal course of box office is that the two films would cannibalize each other’s box office in some way,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “This weekend proves that if you have two incredibly appealing movies in the marketplace at the same time, the marketplace will expand. The year-to-date box office jumped 2.5 percent in one weekend, from 6 percent to 8.5 percent.”

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” has already tallied hundreds of millions in overseas ticket sales over the past two weeks. Its worldwide total already stands at $711.5 million.

The film, starring Chris Pratt and Dallas Bryce Howard, moves the action away from an isolated tropical island. In “Fallen Kingdom,” directed by J.A. Bayona, the dinosaurs are again threatened with extinction because of a soon-to-explode volcano. But they are trapped by a band of mercenaries, a plot intended to mirror real-life animal poaching .

Like 2015’s “Jurassic World,” ”Fallen Kingdom” was able to shrug off mediocre reviews — something that many other franchises have struggled to do lately. It sits at just 50 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes but received an A-minus CinemaScore from audiences.

Universal Pictures, which is planning a third “Jurassic World” film, heavily promoted the $170 million production. Drawing audiences equally young and old, male and female, and from a diverse array of ethnicities, “Fallen Kingdom” played like a classic crowd-pleaser.

“We’re seeing exit polls that indicate all quadrants came out to see this movie,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s distribution chief. “The majority of the audience was under 25. Obviously, we’re playing very broadly, and to families overall, and so thus the result at the very high end of our expectations.”

The domestic opening is the second-best for the 106-year-old Universal. It only follows “Jurassic World,” which went on to make nearly $1.7 billion for the studio.