Friday Box Office Analysis

By Kim Hollis

July 22, 2017

Mark Rylance photo just because he's awesome.

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Another July weekend, another thoroughly well-reviewed film (or two). The studios are giving us good product, which means it's a great time to be a cinephile.

Our top new release of the weekend is Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, a war movie that is beloved both by critics and audiences alike. Yesterday, it debuted with $19.8 million, which includes $5.5 million from Thursday night previews. Nolan has never really presented audiences with straightforward fare, with films like Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige, Inception and Interstellar all having some unusual hook or twist. Alternately, he changed the superhero landscape with his Dark Knight trilogy. With Dunkirk, it's a more serious retelling of historical events, but audiences still are responding rapturously. There's even talk that Nolan might finally capture a Best Director nomination, though it's obviously very early days.

With that $19.8 million debut, we're likely to be looking at a weekend total around $52 million. Outstanding word-of-mouth should keep Dunkirk pushing forward throughout the summer. Overseas audiences should appreciate it as well, especially those in Europe and particularly Great Britain.

Yesterday's runner-up was Girls Trip, a fun and funny looking film that serves both the female and the African-American demographic (but given its strong advertising campaign and marketable stars, obviously extends well past that audience). Girls Trip, which also got fantastic reviews and an A+ Cinemascore from audiences, made $11.7 million on Friday. Although we'll often see these films fall off some over the course of the weekend, I don't think it's going to be as severe as usual. Look for Universal to estimate this one right around $30 million.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was always going to be divisive. Luc Besson resembled nothing so much as... Luc Besson's own Fifth Element, which is more of a cult classic than a big blockbuster. The thing about Valerian, which has a gaudy budget of $209 million, is that it was never truly intended for North American audiences. Sure, STX will take the money they get from distribution, but Besson is primarily an overseas-targeted director at this point. We'll see how that shakes out, but for now Valerian earned just $6.5 million yesterday, which should give it a three-day total of $18 million or so. Like The Fifth Element, it may find its true life on home video.

Despite positive reviews, War for the Planet of the Apes is down a pretty hefty 73% from last Friday. I'd posit that we've reached a point where people really don't enjoy dystopian fiction as much as they did when it was in its heyday a couple of years ago. The state of the world really changes things. Under any circumstance, War should come in with about $18 million, challenging Valerian for position.

The bottom fell out of last weekend's horror release Wish Upon, which was down 65% from a Friday total that was already not so hot. Its $800,000 total yesterday should lead to a weekend of around $2.4 million.

Projected Estimates for the Top Ten (Three-Day)
Estimated Gross
1 Dunkirk 51.9
2 Girls Trip 29.8
3 Spider-Man: Homecoming 21.4
4 Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 18.2
5 War for the Planet of the Apes 17.9
6 Despicable Me 3 13.5
7 Baby Driver 6.0
8 The Big Sick 4.9
9 Wonder Woman 4.8
10 Wish Upon 2.4



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