July 22, 2017

Friday Box Office: “Dunkirk” Victorious, “Girls Trip” Strong, “Valerian” Crashes


There’s a reason why Christopher Nolan may be, along with James Cameron, the last filmmaker who can truly demand blank checks from Hollywood.  His WWII recreation DUNKIRK (Warners), devoid of name stars (apologies to Harry Styles) but riding a tide of Oscar-level reviews, is already overperforming expectations with a $19.8M opening day (including $5.5M from Thursday night).  Nolan’s non-sequels also tend to have excellent weekend multiples (2.9x for Inception, 2.8x for Interstellar), so the weekend could reach $55M.  Dunkirk has about $300M in production and marketing costs to earn back, and there’s still a road ahead, but it’s the last true epic of the summer, which may give it long legs, and should have significant international appeal, especially in Europe.  (It earned $12.7M on Friday from 46 markets, on top of $8.5M from Wed-Thurs openings in a few territories.)

GIRLS TRIP (Universal) has started strong with $11.7M ($1.7M from Thursday night), which should get it to a $29M weekend on perhaps $50M in production and US marketing costs.  (It’s not clear how much of an international presence the film will have.)  That’s more than triple the $3.4M opening day for Rough Night, another R-rated, female-oriented comedy.  Girls Trip is also getting rave reviews (88% on Rotten Tomatoes), and has little direct competition ahead.

Someone is likely to lose a lot of money on VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (Europa/STX)–it’s just not clear who.  Opening day in the US was a terrible $6.5M (including $1.7M from Thursday night), and the weekend may only reach $17M, which means its US total will probably end up below $50M, on $300M in production/marketing costs.  STX, however, is reportedly on the hook for just a $5M marketing contribution, and otherwise is operating as a distributor-for-hire for a fee.  Europa, for its part, received many millions in guarantees from international distributors for their territories.  So unless Valerian is a blockbuster overseas, those companies may bear the brunt of the shortfall, with Europa absorbing the rest.  In any case, Luc Besson is watching his passion project likely in ruins.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (TSG/20th) didn’t hold well despite its own strong reviews and expectations of good word of mouth.  The Friday-to-Friday drop was 73% to $5.9M, for a $21M weekend, down more than 60% from last week.  That’s much worse than the 49-50% drops for Dawn and Rise, and suggests War may not get beyond $140M in the US, the lowest result of the trilogy and down 30% from Dawn.  It’s another franchise that’s quickly running out of gas.

The swift decline of War may open the way for SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (Marvel/Columbia/Sony) to lead the weekend’s holdovers, down 54% from last Friday to $6.3M and a $22M weekend.  It seems increasingly unlikely, though, that Homecoming will reach $300M in the US, which will keep it comfortably ahead of the two Amazing Spider-Man movies ($262M/$202.9M), but behind the Sam Raimi originals, which bottomed out at $336.5M.  It’s a solid result, not an exciting one, at this level of franchise.

DESPICABLE ME 3 (Illumination/Universal), with the family audience to itself, dropped 40% from last Friday to $3.8M, and a $14M weekend.  It’s still on track for $240M in the US.

BABY DRIVER (MRC/TriStar/Sony) continues to be the summer’s sleeper, down 36% from last Friday to $1.7M for a $6M weekend and a US total that should reach $90M+.

THE BIG SICK (Amazon/Lionsgate) had a 43% Friday-to-Friday decline to $1.4M, and should have a $5M weekend, on its way to perhaps $35M in the US.

WONDER WOMAN (RatPac/Huahua/Tencent/DC/Warners) is still a champion, down 38% on its 8th Friday to $1.3M.  It should pass Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 sometime today to become the #1 movie of the summer in the US, and $400M is still within its range.

Last weekend’s cheap horror opening WISH UPON (Broad Green) predictably collapsed by 65% from last Friday to $800K, and probably won’t hit $15M.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."