Box Office: ‘Dunkirk’ Conquers Weekend With $50.5 Million, ‘Valerian’ Flops

Box Office: 'Dunkirk,' 'Girls Trip' Look
Warner Bros.

Dunkirk” and “Girls Trip” are opening above expectations at the domestic box office, while “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” looks like a huge flop.

But let’s start with the good. Christopher Nolan’s World War II film from Warner Bros. is flying past earlier projections to a $50.5 million opening weekend from 3,720 locations. $11.7 million of that total came from Imax screens alone — that’s 23% of the total market share from 402 locations. That $50.5 million number is a good one considering it is expected to have a large multiple, and continue to play well through August. The movie’s production budget was reportedly just under $100 million, although earlier reports speculated that it was much higher.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with this incredible result on this brilliant film,” said Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein. “In a summer that has had a lot of disappointments, this movie way over-achieved.”

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Film Review: Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’

Critics have fallen in love with Nolan’s depiction of the real-life Battle of Dunkirk. Their reviews have earned the movie a 92%, and chatter has already started about its award season potential. But audiences have responded as well, perhaps surprisingly, to what many have described as an atypical war movie. It holds an impressive A- CinemaScore.

“Dunkirk” includes a cast with awards season pedigree in Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy. But the ensemble is mostly made up of a band of newcomers including Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, and, as you probably know by now, Harry Styles.

“We looked at this as a big summer event film. We wanted to give it the patina of a tentpole release,” Goldstein said of the studio’s decision to date the film for the end of July. “We know from past history when you open up at this point in the summertime, you can run for weeks and weeks,” he added, referencing last year’s “Suicide Squad.”

Nolan ruffled some feathers for his bullish comments about the vitality of the theatrical experience. But, perhaps, his prizing of that is part of what ended up encouraging audiences to buy tickets as opposed to waiting for the movie to hit a streaming service. The movie is getting the widest 70MM release in more than two decades, and much of it was shot with Imax’s extremely high-resolution 2D film cameras.

“We’re thrilled with the numbers, and we’re thrilled with the partnership,” said Imax Entertainment CEO Greg Foster. “The one-two punch of Chris’ vision and the Imax experience has once again proven to be irresistible to moviegoers in theaters.”

Even during a crowded weekend, Universal’s “Girls Trip” is breaking the curse of underperforming R-rated comedies this summer as it looks to post $30.4 million from 2,591 locations. That’s the largest opening of any live-action comedy so far this year.

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Film Review: ‘Girls Trip’

“Funny is funny. And it’s a really funny movie,” said Universal’s President of Domestic Distribution Nick Carpou, who pointed out that the $30 million number is an increasingly rare achievement for pure comedies.

“Girls Trip” follows a foursome — Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith — who go out for a long overdue women’s weekend to New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival. Director Malcolm D. Lee is also known for his first feature, “The Best Man,” and its follow-up, “The Best Man Holiday.”

“Our four leads are excellent,” Carpou said. “If they make you laugh you’re likely to tell your friends. That’s what’s happening here,” he added, also pointing to the film’s marketing campaign and Lee’s ability to make films that “resonate.”

Meanwhile “Valerian,” Luc Besson’s big-budget adaptation of the French comic series from his own EuropaCorp, and distributed in the U.S. by STXfilms, looks like a real clunker. The sci-fi epic should land in fifth this weekend with about $17 million from 3,553 locations.

There is some risk mitigation at play here for what is believed to be the most expensive independent movie of all time — the bulk of the production budget was covered with foreign pre-sales, equity financing, and tax subsidies. STX took on marketing and distribution for the film after EuropaCorp’s partner, Relativity, went under. Europa financed the P&A. But, regardless, someone will pay for the movie’s poor returns so far, and sights are set overseas to see if the international box office has a more positive response.

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Film Review: ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’

It’s a tough break for Besson, who has treated the movie like a passion project. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne form the central pairing in the sci-fi epic about a team of space-and-time-traveling agents. Clive Owen, Rihanna, and Ethan Hawke round out the cast.

In its second week, “War for the Planet of the Apes” should earn $20.4 million this weekend, landing it in fourth after a 64% drop. That’s behind “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” in third with $22 million domestically, a 50% decline from its second to third weekends in theaters.

To end on a positive note, “Wonder Woman” is officially the highest-grossed movie of the summer, as of this weekend, with over $389 million. That puts Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot’s acclaimed film ahead of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” There was speculation that Warner Bros. would announce more details about a “Wonder Woman” sequel during Saturday’s Comic-Con panel, but the studio deferred. Still, the stat is exciting news for those who have hope for more female-led projects in the future.

“Dunkirk” and “Wonder Woman” this week pushed Warner Bros. past the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office for 2017 — the seventeenth consecutive year that the studio has done so.

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  1. Jknbt says:

    Why Valerian Failed at the Box Office

    1) The story is plot-based science fiction, which is the most common style of written sci-fi…This often does not translate well to the big screen. Most popular movie “sci-fi” is character-based fiction, based on the Joseph Campbell Hero with a Thousand Faces type model of character development arc. Movie viewers who grew up with Star Wars and a hundred Disney projects are used to and expecting another remake to the heroic fiction genre, especially when set in space.

    2) Valerian is an unsympathetic psych-opath at the core. He is a hired murderer who beds down everything that moves while performing his assignments. Psych-opaths have no empathy for anyone. Nobody wants this guy for their next best friend. For a viewer who wants to see yet another version of Luke Skywalker or Hans Solo on the big screen, this is a disappointment.

    3) Since the movie does not follow the heroic cycle, it is very hard to identify the archetypal characters. If Besson had written Laureline as the protagonist-heroine, then Valerian could have become the antagonist. This would have made for some interesting drama, since they were forced to work together on assignment. Too bad he didn’t, but that probably was not part of the original comic.

    4) The stakes were not high enough to justify the ticket price and the time to see it. What is ultimately at stake here is restoring to the poor victims their lost petty-bourgeois lifestyle, a life of luxury on an idyllic beach. Who cares? This is not a show about saving the planet or galaxy, which would have justified the over-sized graphics & backgrounds.

    5) The little hybrid rat-reptile that def-ecates magical pearls is ridiculous. This device has no place in technology-based sci-fi, even the comic book did have it. Come on, Mr. Besson…you could have turned this into a high tech gadget from the future that condenses photons into matter or something like that. That would have worked better than a cute reptile that def-ecates magical pearls, a device which the whole story turns on. Using this device downgraded the story from science fiction into lame fantasy. This cheated the viewers who were counting on getting a sci-fi story.

    6) What the viewer gets out of going to a movie is feelings. After the ending with the cute reptile restored to its owners and poo-ping more magical pearls so they can live happily ever after in idyllic luxury on the beach, the only feeling most viewers have is “Why did I spend my money here? I could have watched Dunkirk or Spider Man instead.”

  2. Johny R says:

    A Very Boring Masterpiece!

  3. Tom c Johnson says:

    Maybe Dunkirk will help the movie studios figure out that there is a whole unserved audience out there of people over 26 years old who don’t want to see yet another nauseating sci-fi remake and can actually appreciate a powerful story based on real life. Oh yeah, that was American Sniper too and it took until now to get Dunkirk. Instead we’ll see a bunch of copy cat WW II movies that’ll probably suck. Hey executives, here’s an idea; survey Dunkirk audience and see if you can figure out what actually made it work. Then the rest of us might go to the movies on a regular basis again.

    • Toneloke says:

      Tom: Yes Nolan is probably a genius, and I love every movie he made. But Dunkirk was by far the least entertaining of all his movies. Also, given all war movies I have seen in 5 decades, this has the lowest
      kill count. Even though the real battle saw over 100k killed the movie focuses on a short boring window of the war and depicts only a few dozen on screen deaths. Yes you can have a great movie without allot of killing but the movie failed to truly depict the devastation of the war, was slow moving, and had no character that one truly cared about. It felt more like a documentary of the last days of Dunkirk then a
      made for theater movie.

  4. Weary says:

    No surprise on “Valerian”. Looked to be unrelentingly bad, as Leonard Pinth Garnell would say.

  5. Moviegoer says:

    Dunkirk’s glowing reviews and word of mouth should get it to 4× multiplier, which means $200M domestically. With Nolan’s overseas power, it could get to $600M worldwide.
    It was pretty obvious that Valerian would flop in US. None was excited about the movie. It could so well enough overseas. Seems like it won’t need that much for them to be a hit, according to Besson.
    Can’t believe Apes dropped so much. It’s a shame people are ignoring the movie.

  6. IT--II--IT says:

    INTEL RUN Hollywood’s latest –decades off point— addition to the WWII franchise slum.

    Meanwhile, MAO smiles on – –as the clock ticks on ! – –in this, the 11th HOUR…

  7. Chris says:

    Dunkirk wont do well internationally, the French Hate it, so do the Russians, the other EU countries could not care, nor will the Chinese. So all you have propping it up are nolan faboys. No legs.

    Valerian, that girl, Cara Delevingne, just cannot act, another model slash .. enough said.
    The two leads in this have zero chemistry, and clive owen plays it like he’s had a lobotomy. Visually interesting, which will keep the kids happy enough for a short enough while.

    Girls Trip….. bad idea, should have been aborted long ago.

    War for… took too long to come out … a year ago it would have done better.

  8. jim says:

    i saw valerian today pretty good crowd i enjoyed it. the visuals were stunning. i was hearing it was confusing to follow the story. i had no problem pretty straight forward . will be buying this on 3d bluray for sure.

  9. DONEkirk says:

    DUNKIRK will sink like a stone dropped into the middle of the ocean next week. WAR OF THE APES dropped 73% Friday. DUNKIRK will probably collapse 83%. Word of mouth is across the board abysmal. it is one of ghe most soulless World War films ever executed. As always the punk contingent heaps undeserved praise on garbage while ridiculing a masterpiece like Heartbreak Ridge.

  10. CliveH says:

    Dunkirk is without doubt the worst movie I have seen for a long while, I was so disappointed and to think it got good reviews one describing it as the best war film ever. Very little dialogue, no development of characters just a whole lot of people with worried looks on their faces. There were two spitfires and a Heinkel 111 with the spitfires shooting down the same plane several times (same smoke generate each time). The same ship being hit in the same place several times. At the end the spitfire burning on the beach with the propeller held in place by a broom stick not an engine. This movie is an insult to the long tradition of great British movies.

  11. Michelle says:

    I saw Girls Trip and LOVED IT. The crowd was so diverse and I even saw a 40-year-old woman with her 70-year-old mom in line to see. (And they were not black). Valerian just looked to milk toast to see.

  12. diamonion says:

    Of course they won’t announce a Wonder Woman sequel, they have to find a new actress before they do that so they don’t have to pay Gadot the blockbuster money she has due to her now.

  13. Tom Sabbe says:

    Dunkirk reminds us of the reason war sucks. Other than that it was one overly dramatized scene after another, sewn togther haphazardly. It will win cinematography, but little entertainment value besides showing the British stiff upper lip.

  14. Jana says:

    Some people in this comments section need some facts:

    -“The Fifth Element” was a hit. Especially in Europe it did amazingly well. It’s pretty unique & has become a minor classic.

    -“John Carter” was a flop, but it didn’t deserve to be one. It’s actually pretty good with a very nice beginning and ending. Taylor Kitsch is good, but the female lead was miscast and some of the designs just too weird, I guess.

    -“Valerian” just opened in Europe, so it’s too early to call it a “flop”, since the property is best-known there and Besson’s films always played better in Europe. But it will struggle to get into profit, that’s for sure. And there won’t be any sequels. But I take a creative film like “Valerian” every day above a “World of Warcraft” abomination. Peter Jackson loves it, too, I read.

  15. Fernando says:

    I predicted a few articles ago that Valerian would flop. It always boggles my mind: if I can predict this, why can’t the guy investing so many millions into it?

    It’s the end of the road for Besson.

    For everyone who hasn’t seen his best work: watch The Big Blue, it’s really beautiful.

  16. No respect says:

    Why was Laureline’s name eliminated form the title? She’s supposed to have equal billing with Valerian.

  17. David Knowles says:

    Shame Besson couldn’t slap Star Wars on as the film title, it would have broken records!

  18. Steve Barr says:

    Dunkirk is the most over praised movie of the year !

  19. Bill B. says:

    Valerian’s trailers looked just awful. Saw them twice in a theater and the second time a friend said to me that in this day & age thee was no reason for poor special effects for big budgeted films and I have to agree. It looked cheesy and extremely fake. Perhaps that is on purpose for some reason, but even if that is so, it won’t get me to see it. Looks awful. Dane DeHaan has proven himself to be a fascinating actor in the right role, so this is a shame. The fact that I hated The Fifth Element is another reason for me to avoid this and for those who are defending John Carter here, you must love awful movies as that was surely one of the worst in recent times. Taylor Kitsch looked like someone who would make it big in film after the TV series Friday Night Lights and he some talent, but I think he will end up back in TV rather than film.

  20. Ahsoka Bendu says:

    Get the F outta here with that John Carter sucked! That film is frickin incredible and if Disney didn’t botch the marketing we’d be having a very different convo. Valerian was good not great but jus good. Terrible acting & weak dialogue wreaked the film but other than that I really enjoyed it. The story was cool & the Visuals were spectacular and mind blowing. Sad to see it flop but it’s not that surprising yo. Should’ve dropped it in August-Sept

    • Flix says:

      Agreed, John Carter is a massively underrated movie. But I can’t even blame Disney marketing that much, there just isn’t a big enough audience willing to give swords and sandals in space a try. It was a tough sell from the first pitch, I actually give Disney a lot of credit for going through with the project

    • Nikki says:

      No it sucked. The world rejected it, and yes, the marketing budget was slashed because Disney knew they had a dog on their hands. No amount of release date would have changed anything. And the fact that it cost over $300 million and looks like a 2 dollar movie doesn’t help.

  21. Jimmy says:

    John Carter was actually quite good and I am looking forward to seeing Valerian. Nothing but superhero movies are doing well any more in America. Maybe it has been the political coverage since last summer. It is hard to say way movies have been underperforming just look at Spiderman Homecoming and the last Apes movie.

    • Nikki says:

      john carter was not good–there ‘s a reason it’s the biggest flop in hollywood history: it’s a terrible movie and audiences worldwide rejected it. Even after all these years, it can’t even manage to become a “cult” movie–just a bad flop.

  22. cedric lugon says:

    It’s a “flop” only because it doesn t “work” well in US ? Anyone knows that none american movie anyway wont do as well as an american movie. Valerian will do way better outside US. American are the most chauvinist peoples…..

    • Kate says:

      Considering that US usually makes up 30-40% of a movie’s worldwide gross, that’s a big chunk of market that will be missed.

    • Mark says:

      Valerian is so bad, even the FRENCH are avoiding it. Based on a kid’s comic book, and played for small children doesn’t work well here.

  23. Mark says:

    valerian, like the awful fifth element before it, is a characterless mess. Just awful from beginning to end. I haven’t seen a flop this bad since john carter.

  24. Man1985 says:

    Good for you Mario. Because you’ll be dead wrong and look like an idiot

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