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Weekend Box Office: The Dark Tower Tops Summer's Slowest Weekend

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By Chris Kavan - 08/06/17 at 05:57 PM CT

While it was a win for The Dark Tower, it came at the nadir of summer. Thus far, the summer season is down 10% compared to last year and this weekend the top 12 films took in just $111.5 million, the sixth lowest-grossing weekend of the year, and by far the lowest of the summer season. There wasn't much else in store for the box office, either as Kidnap performed slightly better than expected (it actually hit double digits) while Detroit was a big letdown in its expansion. In fact, thought it didn't top the box office, the one, true bright spot remains Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, which continues to hold strong and looks more and more like a lock for awards season.


The Dark Tower had so much potential going for it - Stephen King's multi-layered story is full of memorable characters, wild action, amazing events (some which are better left to the books - truth be told) and powerful emotion. While I am still willing to give the movie a chance, it's $19.5 million debut, while topping the box office, really shows it didn't impress critics, general audiences or fans of the novels. That's too bad - Idris Elba seems like a great fit as the stoic and determined Gunslinger - though I'm less a fan of the idea of Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black. Critcs gave it a rather withering 35% (via Metacritic) score while audiences awarded it a standard "B" Cinemascore. 58% of that audience was male while 68% were over 25. The film did score the second-highest opening for a movie based on a Stephen King novel (behind the $20.6 million of 1408) but it's going to have to hope for international help to get over its $60 million budget. It's likely looking at a total of $50-$55 million here in the U.S. The bigger story is what this means for the future of this would-be franchise - whether on the big screen or TV - with such a weak response, it may be awhile (if ever) we get to find out if Roland Deschain ever reaches the Tower again.


The last summer smash may have not reached number one, but Dunkirk is still the bright spot of the late summer movie season. Christopher Nolan's war drama dipped a light 34% in its third weekend, bringing in $17.6 million and giving the film a new domestic total of $133.55 million. Even better news is that the film topped the $300 million mark on the worldwide front, with $314 million total and counting. Barring any major meltdown (unlikely), Dunkirk is looking at a domestic total of $200 million - maybe more if it can count on some award nominations. Plus, it still has a few more territories (including China) to open with - for a worldwide total that could top $500 million if it gets lucky. Dunkirk might not be able to compete directly with the superheroes for the overall summer crown, but it will have no problem ending summer on a high note.


Withering reviews and ambivalent audience response still didn't make The Emoji Movie an outright disaster. The animated comedy took a 49.7% hit in its second weekend with a $12.35 million showing and a new $49.45 million total. It will be able to top its $50 million budget in the next day. It hasn't opened in many international territories as of yet, with just $12.7 million overseas. It's playing much like The Smurfs 2 (which had $46 million by the end of its second weekend) and should wind up firmly in the $70-$75 million range which, as far as I'm concerned, is still way too much - but school is about to start again and families don't tend to be too choosy when it comes to what to watch.


Dunkirk isn't the only late-summer success story, Girls Trip has also proven to be a hit with audiences. Dipping 42% in its third weekend, the ensemble female comedy took in $11.41 million, giving the film a new $85.44 million total. That looks pretty good next to its $19 million budget and it's still pacing (just barely) ahead of Bridesmaids in the same release frame - no small feat on its own. The bad news is its third week drop was a bit more than both Bridesmaids and Bad Moms but it is still on pace to hit $100 million easy - with a $115 million total likely, which would make it the second-highest grossing film for director Malcolm D. Lee behind just RIde Along ($134 million). It's going to turn out excellent no matter where it ultimately winds up.


Rounding out the top five, the long-delayed Kidnap, with Halle Berry in the lead role, took in $10.2 million. With some numbers predicting single digits for the thriller, that total is actually in line with some of the higher-end predictions. And, sure, it didn't open anywhere near The Call's $17 million, but for a Relativity survivor, Kidnap turned out about as good as could have been expected and audiences gave it a "B+", meaning they felt pretty good about it too. It was driven by females (63%) with 73% of that audience coming in over 25. It's not going to be a huge hit, but it will also not turn out to be an utter disaster. It should wind up at around $25-$30 million on the high end and at least $20 million on the low end.

Outside the top five: The subject matter may have been a bit too heavy for general moviegoers as the well-reviewed historical drama Detroit, only mustered a $7.25 million showing in its expansion. It did jump from 16th to 8th place, with a 1,970.6% increase (going from just 20 theater to 3007 total) but the controversial and quite violent saga from Kathryn Bigelow was expected to do a bit better. A lot may ride on if it can secure any nominations in the coming months.

I want to talk about so many milestones, but it will have to wait another week a Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Baby Driver are all just outside some big achievements.

Late summer may yet recover with Annabelle: Creation, Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature and The Glass Castle all opening.


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