Christopher Nolan is back on top of the box office. The writer-director’s World War II epic Dunkirk earned an estimated $50.5 million in the U.S. and Canada in its first weekend of release, easily outpacing fellow newcomers Girls Trip and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
After heading into the weekend with strong reviews and early Oscar buzz, Dunkirk has resonated with moviegoers as well, garnering an A-minus CinemaScore that bodes well for the film’s long-term prospects. The Warner Bros. film, which cost about $100 million to make, is getting a boost from IMAX screenings, which account for $11.7 million of the domestic opening. Dunkirk is also set to add an estimated $55.4 million overseas this weekend.
Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, newcomer Fionn Whitehead, and pop idol Harry Styles, Dunkirk chronicles the desperate evacuation of some 400,000 Allied troops from the titular French seaport. The film’s $50.5 million haul represents the best opening for a WWII movie in several years, surpassing Allied (which debuted to $12.7 million), Unbroken ($30.6 million), and Fury ($23.7 million). For Nolan, Dunkirk is his fourth-biggest opening as a director, behind The Dark Knight Rises ($160.9 million), The Dark Knight ($158.4), and Inception ($62.8 million).
Coming in second place with a strong showing this weekend is Universal’s Girls Trip with an estimated $30.4 million. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee and made for a reported $19 million, the R-rated film earned an A-plus CinemaScore and looks to be the first bona fide live-action comedy hit of the year, in the wake of underperformers such as Snatched, Baywatch, CHiPs, and Rough Night.
Girls Trip stars Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Queen Latifah as lifelong friends who travel to New Orleans for a wild weekend.
Faring less well at the multiplex is this weekend’s third new release, the sci-fi adventure Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Director Luc Besson’s film lands in fifth place with an estimated $17 million, behind the holdovers Spider-Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes.
Based on the French comic series Valérian and Laureline, the movie stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as two space-faring special agents on a mission to save the universe. Though it’s cut from the same colorfully futuristic cloth as Besson’s cult favorite The Fifth Element, Valerian has received mixed reviews, and moviegoers gave it a B-minus CinemaScore.
That’s not great news for the EuropaCorp film (released domestically by STX), which cost about $150 million to produce and is the most expensive French movie ever made. On the other hand, many of Besson’s previous films have performed well overseas, and Valerian could follow suit. (It opens in France on July 26). According to EuropaCorp, 90 percent of Valerian‘s budget was covered with foreign pre-sales, equity financing, and tax subsidies.
Although Fox’s War for the Planet of the Apes is on pace to edge out Valerian in its second weekend, its estimated haul of $20.4 million represents a steep 64 percent drop. It’s the latest franchise sequel to experience such a decline, joining movies like Transformers: The Last Knight (down 62 percent its second weekend) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (65 percent).
Outside the weekend top five, Wonder Woman brought in an estimated $4.6 million, pushing its domestic total to $389 million. That would officially make it the highest-grossing movie of the summer, eclipsing Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($387.2 million). With Dunkirk and Wonder Woman‘s weekend tallies, Warner Bros. is also set to cross the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office for 2017, a feat the studio will have pulled off 17 years in a row.
On the specialty front, Gillian Robespierre’s comedy Landline — which reunited the filmmaker with Obvious Child star Jenny Slate — is poised to gross an estimated $52,336 across four locations, for a solid per-theater average of $13,084. The French film The Midwife, starring Catherine Deneuve, is headed for an estimated $20,250 across three locations, for a per-theater average of $6,750.
Per ComScore, overall box office is down .7 percent from the same frame from last year. Check out the July 21-23 figures below.
1. Dunkirk — $50.5 million
2. Girls Trip — $30.4 million
3. Spider-Man: Homecoming — $22 million
4. War for the Planet of the Apes — $20.4
5. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets — $17 million
6. Despicable Me 3 — $12.7 million
7. Baby Driver — $6 million
8. The Big Sick — $ 5 million
9. Wonder Woman — $4.6 million
10. Wish Upon — $2.5 million