‘Dark Tower’ tops week­end as ‘Detroit’ fiz­zles

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - BY JAKE COYLE

NEW YORK | After a decade of de­vel­op­ment and sev­eral post­pone­ments, the long-awaited Stephen King adap­ta­tion “The Dark Tower” de­buted with an es­ti­mated $19.5 mil­lion in North Amer­i­can ticket sales, nar­rowly edg­ing out the two-week leader “Dunkirk.”

The mod­est re­sult for “The Dark Tower,” star­ring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, was in line with ex­pec­ta­tions head­ing into the week­end but well shy of ini­tial hopes for a pos­si­ble fran­chise-starter.

J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard are among the di­rec­tors who pre­vi­ously tried to tackle Mr. King’s magnum opus, a seven-book se­ries that melds sci-fi with hor­ror and other gen­res.

But the long bat­tle to make “The Dark Tower” ended with poor re­views and few fire­works. Still, the movie was made for a rel­a­tively mod­est amount: about $60 mil­lion, or half of what many other sum­mer movies cost. Sony Pic­tures also split costs with Me­dia Rights Cap­i­tal.

“It was al­ways an am­bi­tions and bold un­der­tak­ing, but it was made at the right price,” said Adrian Smith, pres­i­dent of do­mes­tic dis­tri­bu­tion for Sony Pic­tures.

By com­par­i­son, the re­cent flop “Va­le­rian and the City of a Thou­sand Plan­ets,” which opened with $17 mil­lion, cost at least $180 mil­lion to make.

Christo­pher Nolan’s World War II epic “Dunkirk” slid to sec­ond with $17.6 mil­lion in its third week. It’s now made $133.6 mil­lion do­mes­ti­cally. Other holdovers — “The Emoji Movie” ($12.4 mil­lion in its sec­ond week) and “Girls Trip” ($11.4 mil­lion in its third week) fol­lowed.

An­other long-de­layed film also made its de­but: The Halle Berry thriller “Kidnap” opened with $10.2 mil­lion. Styled after the Liam Nee­son “Taken” se­ries,” the film was re­leased by the new dis­trib­u­tor Av­i­ron Pic­tures after it bought the North Amer­i­can rights from Rel­a­tiv­ity. Be­fore en­ter­ing bank­ruptcy, Rel­a­tiv­ity had sched­uled the film’s re­lease for 2015.

But “Kidnap” still out­per­formed the week’s other new wide re­lease, the far more an­tic­i­pated “Detroit.” The Kathryn Bigelow-di­rected docu­d­rama is also the first re­lease for an up­start dis­trib­u­tor.

The first film dis­trib­uted by Me­gan El­li­son’s An­na­purna Pic­tures, “Detroit” de­buted with a dis­ap­point­ing $7.3 mil­lion after a lim­ited re­lease last week. As a pro­ducer, Ms. El­li­son, the Or­a­cle heiress, has been be­hind some of the most ac­claimed films in re­cent years, in­clud­ing “Fox­catcher” and “Amer­i­can Hus­tle.”

“Detroit,” the third col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Ms. Bigelow and screen­writer Mark Boal (“The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty”), reimag­ines the ter­ror-filled events around the Al­giers Mo­tel in­ci­dent dur­ing the 1967 Detroit ri­ots.

“We wish more peo­ple had showed up this week­end, but we are re­ally, re­ally proud of the movie,” said Erik Lomis, An­na­purna’s dis­tri­bu­tion chief. “The movie got an A-mi­nus Cine­maS­core, and the re­views have been spec­tac­u­lar.”

Though hard-hit­ting, au­teur-driven films are typ­i­cally fall ma­te­rial, An­na­purna timed the re­lease of “Detroit” to the 50th an­niver­sary of the ri­ots. Mr. Lomis said the in­ten­tion was to bring the film to as broad an au­di­ence as pos­si­ble.

“We believe that smart au­di­ences ac­tu­ally want and will see great movies all year round,” he said.

In lim­ited re­lease, Tay­lor Sheri­dan’s In­dian reser­va­tion thriller “Wind River,” star­ring Jeremy Ren­ner, de­buted with a strong per-screen av­er­age of $13,053 in four the­aters. The We­in­stein Co. re­lease was writ­ten and di­rected by Mr. Sheri­dan, the screen­writer be­hind the Os­car-nom­i­nated “Hell or High Wa­ter.”

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