LOS ANGELES — "Wonder Woman" fell to second place in its third weekend in theaters, but it's still doing the heavy lifting for the otherwise lackluster summer box office.
While many worn-out franchises and franchise hopefuls continue to struggle to find a significant North American audience, smaller films like the Tupac Shakur biopic "All Eyez on Me" and the shark thriller "47 Meters Down" were able to break through the clutter and make a splash this weekend.
As expected, the third installment in Disney and Pixar's $1 billion "Cars" franchise easily took the top spot, but its estimated $53.5 million in earnings told a more complicated tale.
"Cars 3" had the worst opening in the series' history — "Cars" opened to $60.1 million and "Cars 2" to $66.1 million — and it was one of the lowest debut totals for the Pixar brand.
It was also a disappointment compared with the top films over this weekend in 2015 and 2016, said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for comScore.
A year ago, Pixar's "Finding Dory" debuted with $135.1 million. In 2015, Jurassic World" raked in $106.6 million in its second weekend.
"That kind of tells you the state of the industry," Dergarabedian said.
The G-rated "Cars 3" got an "A" CinemaScore and generally positive reviews, but it will have to contend with "Despicable Me 3," which opens in two weeks. ("Despicable Me 3" is a co-production of Universal Pictures, a unit of NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.)
"Wonder Woman" was knocked down to second place with $40.8 million, bringing its domestic total to $274.6 million, while holdover "The Mummy" slid to fourth place in weekend two with $13.9 million.
"It's been a challenging summer. I always say it comes down to product. Are the movies grabbing people?" Dergarabedian said. "Before 'Wonder Woman,' we were about 9 percent behind last summer. We're now at about even, but the industry would like to see better than even."
Amid the doldrums, lower-profile films were able to make a mark. The longtime-coming Tupac biopic "All Eyez on Me" earned $27.1 million to take third place on the charts.
Despite largely negative reviews, audiences gave the film an "A-" CinemaScore. Lionsgate's Codeblack division marketed the picture, which cost Morgan Creek Productions about $40 million to produce. It opened to coincide with what would have been the late rapper's 46th birthday on Friday.
"It's always nice to exceed expectations," said David Spitz, president of theatrical distribution for Lionsgate.
The Mandy Moore shark thriller "47 Meters Down" also exceeded low expectations, earning $11.5 million for a fifth-place start. A "C" CinemaScore, however, could mean the picture is dead in the water going forward.
The raunchy R-rated comedy "Rough Night" is also facing some rough waters ahead with its ghastly "C+" CinemaScore. The film, about a bachelorette party weekend gone wrong, starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon and Jillian Bell, took in a paltry $8.1 million against a $20 million production budget.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
- "Cars 3," $53.5 million ($21.3 million international).
- "Wonder Woman," $40.8 million ($39.5 million international).
- "All Eyez on Me," $27.1 million ($3.1 million international).
- "The Mummy," $13.9 million ($53 million international).
- "47 Meters Down," $11.5 million.
- "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," $8.5 million ($18.8 million international).
- "Rough Night," $8.1 million ($4.2 million international).
- "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie," $7.4 million ($1.2 million international).
- "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," $5 million ($1.2 million international).
- "It Comes At Night," $2.6 million.