Dunkirk overwhelms Valerian
The World War II epic Dunkirk, a potential Oscar contender from director Christopher Nolan, led the domestic box office in its debut, while the costly sciencefiction film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets flopped with movie fans.
Dunkirk, from Warner Bros., opened with weekend sales of $50.5 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, researcher ComScore Inc. said Sunday. The R-rated comedy Girls Trip made its debut with $31.2 million, topping estimates. Valerian took in $17 million, missing already low expectations.
Nolan, who directed Warner Bros.’ successful Dark Knight films, returns with a movie that some critics say should contend for the bestpicture Oscar. The studio is enjoying a solid year at the box office. Sales are up 7.2 percent, according to Box Office Mojo, on the strength of Wonder Woman from its DC Comics franchise. Warner Bros. also is releasing Blade Runner 2049 and Justice League later this year.
Dunkirk features Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Oscar winner Mark Rylance and One Direction singer Harry Styles in a story about the historic rescue of hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, France.
The movie had a budget of $150 million, according to Box Office Mojo. Critics gave Dunkirk 92 percent positive reviews, according to aggregator Rottentomatoes.com.
Many analysts expected a tepid start based on the film’s appeal among older men. But the picture, which received an A-minus CinemaScore from audiences, saw a 60 percent male turnout, and 75 percent were 25 or older.
Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros., said he was elated with the film’s performance.
Goldstein expects the audience demographic to broaden in the coming weeks, citing word of mouth as the film’s primary marketing scheme. This is evidenced by boxoffice figures, which reflect a 23 percent jump in ticket sales between Friday and Saturday.
With its fifth-place opening, Valerian is one of the summer’s biggest failures and a poor showing for director Luc Besson, whose credits include The Fifth Element.
The film is one of the most expensive independent movies ever, based on data from Box Office Mojo and the distributor STX Entertainment, which pegged the projected cost at $150 million even after government subsidies.
Produced by Besson’s EuropaCorp and Orange Studio, the picture opened at just $17 million, according to Hollywood Stock Exchange. Critics were split on the film, which garnered 56 percent positive reviews.
Girls Trip, from Universal, opened in second place with $ 31.2 million. Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett Smith star as lifelong friends who travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival. They rekindle their friendship and rediscover their wild sides.
Although some analysts foresaw the success of Girls Trip, the movie acts as a stark counterpoint to Hollywood’s historical underestimation of films led by black women.
In third place was Columbia’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, and in fourth, Fox’s War for the Planet of the Apes.
Kenneth Branagh stars as Commander Bolton in the new Warner Bros. Pictures’ action thriller Dunkirk. It came in first at last weekend’s box office and made about $50.5 million.