Weekend Wrap-Up

Dunkirk Leads Three New Releases to a Combined $100 Million

By John Hamann

July 23, 2017

Queens of the Mardi Gras!

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First off, let's get things started with a bang: Dunkirk opened to $50.5 million, and Girls Trip was hot with $30.4. Both films earned more than expected. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets picked the wrong weekend to debut and struggled with $17 million.

Just like last year over the same weekend, three opening titles at the box office had to combine their strength to provide a decent summer number. The problem is that the box office once again either equals or lags the year previous, leaving us in the constant state of failure. It would be so nice to say "enough already," chuck this summer in the garbage, and move on to Oscar season.

But wait. Before we get too morose over the constant summer failures, let's have a closer look at what happened this weekend, as most of the openers were strong, top 12 totals were decent, and no sequels were released. What's that, you say? Hollywood released three major films this frame, and none of them were a remake or had a roman numeral or a colon attached. How can we not have a weekend with a title like Studios Spend Too Much Money 6: Gotcha Again Sucker? We have to go back to March to find a weekend where three films opened on more than 2,000 screens, and none of them were sequels. However, that weekend in March gave us the disasters CHiPS and Power Rangers, and the only new idea that weekend, Life, which was a rip off of an Alien movie. - In the end, all of them floundered and all lost money.


This weekend is similar as openers include Dunkirk, the recounting of the nasty World War II battle, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which was previously a comic book, and lastly Girls Trip, which feels a lot like Bridesmaids, a "Tyler Perry Presents" flick and The Best Man all swirled into one. The really odd thing is that we get this batch this weekend, followed by Atomic Blonde and The Emoji Movie in the following frame, and then three more originals on August 4th, before getting back to normal in the following frame with two sequels (both with colons!) and an original title.

Our number one film of the weekend is Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, which lit it up at the box office. With end-to-end action, great reviews, and that Chris Nolan "thing," previews were big, earning $5.1 million. When combining those previews with Friday's business, opening day came in at a very solid $19.8 million, showing the strength of this release. Considering that Warner Bros. was looking for an opening between$35 and $40 million, I'd say that was an impressive first day, considering that Dunkirk's overseas business was going to drive profits on this one.

Variety loves to remind us about Nolan's last film, Interstellar, and its $47.5 million opening weekend versus its $165 million production budget, flirting with the idea that the space epic was a disappointment financially. In actuality, Interstellar opened on November 7, 2014. It had earned $150 million prior to the end of the month (three weeks) and wound up earning $500 million overseas. Nolan draws his own crowd like no other director working today. That title used to belong to Quentin Tarantino, but making only five films since 1997 does not endear the fanbase. Nolan's last five films have averaged $717 million worldwide, and if you've ever heard a Nolan fan debate the ending of Inception, you know what I'm talking about.

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