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Weekend Box Office: Dunkirk Wins the Battle as Girls Trip Opens Strong While Valerian Crashes

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By Chris Kavan - 07/23/17 at 08:12 PM CT

Christopher Nolan has enjoyed great success at the box office, and the opening of Dunkirk was no exception. Meanwhile, to counter-program the war and sci-fi films dominating the box office, Girls Trip had a healthy opening as well. It wasn't all good news, however, as the second week for War for the Planet of the Apes took a big hit and, despite some amazing visuals, Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was lost in the crowd and won't have a major impact in the U.S. It was also another big weekend for Wonder Woman, as the female-driven superhero film can finally claim the outright summer box office crown.


Having opened to some of the best reviews of the year, and already being positioned as an early front-runner for awards season, Christopher Nolans first war films, Dunkirk, was poised to be a big winner at the box office. It easily topped the weekend with a $50.5 million opening - of which a pretty astounding 23% ($17 million) came from IMAX showings in just 402 theaters. The films budget came in at under $100 million and with a 2.55 weekend multiplayer, it will have no problem hitting that mark. The audience seemed about as impressed as critics, with an "A-" Cinemascore. 60% of said audience was male with 76% coming in over 25. As this is positioned as the adult drama of the summer, I expect it to have plenty of staying power, probably through the end of August and, if it follows the path of other Nolan films, $150 million is likely - with a higher total certainly in the picture. A lot will be determined on what happens in week 2 - a lot of big films have fallen off the cliff lately in their respective second weekends, but I have a feeling Dunkirk is going to buck that trend and hold up much better in both the short and long run.


Positioned at exactly the right time to counter both the war drama and sci-fi fantasy/superhero films currently dominated in the market, the female ensemble comedy Girls Trip opened to $30.3 million - a superb start for the $19 million film. Plus, it earned a rare "A+" Cinemascore (unsurprisingly the audience was 79% female), making this a sure bet for date night or, uh, girls night out, for weeks to come. The film opened $7 ahead of Bad Moms - and that film ended up with $119 million. While it might be hard to match those legs, $100 million is still a likely target - a great success for any R-rated comedy and the first real comedic success of the summer and will likely be one of the biggest success stories if it can wind up making 5x its budget. It also represents another big win for director Malcolm D. Lee, following The Best Man Holiday and (to a lesser extent) Barbershop: The Next Cut. It will be interesting to see how this works out in the coming months, but I have a feeling it will do just fine.


While it took a big tumble in its second weekend, Spider-Man: Homecoming managed to make a slight recovery in its third weekend. Its 50.2% drop, much better than the 68% third-weekend drop for The Amazing Spider-Man. In any case, the $22 million weekend gives the superhero reboot a new $251.7 million total, crossing another big milestone in the process. With $33.7 million overseas, the worldwide total for the film has crossed the $570 million mark. It will have no problem topping the $262 million total of The Amazing Spider-Man and it still has a very good shot of topping $300 million domestic in the long run.


Following in the footsteps of Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes (which also had very strong reviews) took a huge second-week hit, dropping nearly 64%, taking in $20.4 million and raising its total to $97.7 million. That means that despite some of the best reviews for an all-out summer tentpole picture, War is probably going to wind up in the $125-$130 range, or about where Transformers: The Last Knight and Cars 3 both ended up. It's yet another sign of the so-called franchise fatigue that has plagued so many summer films and it's not likely to be the last. The $150 million film isn't even going to top that domestically and it will have to rely on foreign totals to keep it in the black.


It's going to be rough waters for Valerian, at least on the domestic front. With just $17 million in its initial opening, the sci-fi extravaganza from Luc Besson just didn't connect with audiences. I, for one, think this is exactly the kind of film people should experience on the big screen and think the effort is well worth it. But maybe it's unfamiliarity with the source material or simply that it just didn't stand out in the crowd, but Valerian (with a reported budget of anywhere from $150-$209 million) is going to earn most of its money overseas. Certainly it should play huge in France, where the source material came from and Besson has already recouped 90% of the cost from foreign pre-sales, so even if the U.S. doesn't contribute much, it shouldn't be a disaster. The 63% male and just 40% under 24 audience awarded this a meh "B-" Cinemascore (I would probably score this a more solid "B+" or maybe even "A-"), thus it will probably not benefit much from word-of-mouth. Still, I say if you are a sci-fi fan, catch this while you can - for the visual effects alone it's worth experiencing on the big screen.

Outside the top five: It was inevitable but Wonder Woman can now officially claim the summer box office crown. With a $4.63 million weekend, Wonder Woman rose to $389 million, topping the $387.2 million for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as the biggest summer movie. While it won't win the overseas or global total challenge, there's a good chance it will leg it to $400 million domestic, which would put it neck-and-neck with Spider-Man ($403.7 million) as the best origin non-sequel comic book movie on record. In any case, it's a huge success and we'll see how this affects Justice League later in the year.

Next week brings us the kick-ass Charlize Theron cold war action film Atomic Blonde along with the animated Emoji Movie.


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