Wait, three weekends in a row with a critically acclaimed new release? In July? Who are you and what have you done with Hollywood?
Weekend Forecast for July 21-23, 2017
By Tim Briody
July 21, 2017
Mainly known for original screenplays and the Dark Knight Batman trilogy, Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan’s first “based on a true story” film, about the British evacuation of soldiers from the beaches of northern France in World War II. After a defeat at the Battle of Dunkirk, with British troops essentially surrounded on land by German forces, literally any available sea vessel (including civilian cargo ships, fishing boats and privately owned yachts) was commissioned to assist in the rescue of British forces, a successful evacuation that historians credit with saving thousands of troops and preserving morale in the early days of the war.
More historical war epic than action movie (though the set pieces are getting rave reviews, as is the rest of the film), Dunkirk uses an ensemble cast, with lead roles going to Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Fionn Whitehead and former One Directioner Harry Styles (in his film debut) to tell the tale over three different fronts in a non-linear narrative.
Dunkirk has become the best reviewed film of Nolan’s career, even besting The Dark Knight, with some reviewers calling it one of the best war movies ever made. The way-too-early-for-this scuttlebutt is he’s in serious contention for his first directing Oscar nomination (he’s got two screenplay noms, for Inception and Interstellar). An “important” film without any truly big names released in the middle of the summer is typically a questionable box office decision, but Nolan is one of the few directors remaining whose name carries weight at the box office. He’s also got enough cachet to have the film play in 70 mm in over 100 theaters (the first film to do that since Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight roadshow in 2015), which actually may kick in a few extra bucks of box office. It’s got some surprising competition for the weekend crown, but Dunkirk’s got the inside track with a weekend of around $37 million.
Are you ready for the $200 million indie film? Uh, based on how it’s going to do this weekend, probably not. Luc Besson brings us Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, based on a French science fiction comic that’s popular or something. Largely independently funded by Besson’s own production company (and being distributed by STX Entertainment), Valerian stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne (we’re still trying to make her a thing?), Clive Owen and Rihanna in what I could best describe as a futuristic space opera where some stuff happens. There’s admittedly an audience for this sort of thing, but it’s pretty small, and I have no idea what anyone involved was thinking. Reviews are middling, and based on the production costs, it’s set to be one of the larger disappointments of the summer, if not the year. Valerian is likely looking at a weekend of about $19 million.
Girls Trip is an R-rated comedy aimed squarely at the African American demographic; it’s basically The Hangover starring Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Tiffany Haddish. Unlike the majority of comedies released in 2017, Girls Trip is getting extremely strong reviews, and since we’re going for two consistently underserved audiences here, the chance of a breakout is actually quite strong. Even despite the R-rated comedic flops Rough Night and The House in this summer alone, Girls Trip is going to top Valerian and be way more competitive with Dunkirk than anyone anticipated a few weeks ago. A year ago Bad Moms opened to $23.8 million and I think Girls Trip can best that, with a solid $26 million weekend.
War for the Planet of the Apes completed the trilogy with $56.2 million, in line with Rise of the Planet of the Apes $54.8 million in 2011 but giving back a lot from the $72.6 million Dawn of the Planet of the Apes earned in 2014. More action oriented than the previous Apes films, the darker tone in Dawn (as compared to Rise) is the most likely thing that caused the drop, but it will still be helped by overseas grosses, so there’s not really anything for Fox to be ashamed of here. Dawn did have a 50% decline in its second weekend, and I think the same will happen here (Spider-Man came out on top for most of the week), so it’s looking at a weekend of $28 million.
Speaking of Spider-Man, Homecoming did take a 62% hit in its second weekend, but the association with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still paying dividends as it has already surpassed The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and by the end of next weekend will have topped the first one’s $262 million. It’s not going to match the heights of the Sam Raimi original trilogy of Spidey films, but considering the franchise was on life support prior to this, coming in around $300 million is just fine. This weekend, Homecoming will add another $20 million to its total.