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Box Office: ‘Dunkirk’ Battles to $5.5 Million on Thursday Night

Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” has opened impressively with $5.5 million in Thursday night preview screenings in North America.

Universal’s comedy “Girls Trip” launched respectably with $1.7 million in Thursday night shows in 2,195 domestic theaters, while Luc Besson’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” matched that figure at 2,600 locations.

Warner Bros. is opening “Dunkirk” at 3,720 domestic venues Friday. The studio has forecasted that the highly praised World War II epic will take in between $35 million and $40 million for the launch weekend but other trackers believe the final number will be higher.

The movie is getting the widest 70MM release in more than two decades, a testament to the trust the backers have in Nolan. The director shot much of “Dunkirk” with Imax’s extremely high-resolution 2D film cameras.

The Thursday night preview numbers included $1.6 million from 402 Imax screens for a stellar $3,980 per location.

“Dunkirk,” based on the 1940 evacuation of 300,000 stranded Allied troops from France, stars Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, and Harry Styles. Film critics have already offered extensive praise for the cinematography, direction, acting, and musical score.

Early audience response Thursday night was impressive with 57% giving “Dunkirk” an excellent rating and 32% calling it “very good,” according to comScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak. The current Rotten Tomatoes score is 92% fresh. “Dunkirk” is also opening in 46 international markets this weekend.

Girls Trip” is expected to open with about $25 million at 2,591 locations this weekend and should break the streak of underperforming R-rated comedies such as “Rough Night” and “The House.” Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith star in a story of four friends attending the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.

Universal announced this week that it has signed “Girls Trip” director Malcolm D. Lee to a first-look deal. Critics have backed “Girls Trip” with an 87% approval rating.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” an adaptation of the French comic series from EuropaCorp, is eyeing an opening in the low $20 million range at 3,553 venues.

Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne star as 28th Century special agents preventing the destruction of the universe. Clive Owen, Rihanna, and Ethan Hawke round out the cast. The bulk of the reported $180 million production budget was covered with foreign pre-sales, equity financing, and tax subsidies.

STX took on marketing and distribution in the U.S. after EuropaCorp’s partner Relativity Media floundered. Reviews have been mixed with a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fox’s second weekend of “War for the Planet of the Apes” will probably be battling for second with about $25 million at 4,100 locations. The latest entry in the durable “Apes” franchise has already taken in $73 million in its first six days.

Sony-Marvel’s third weekend of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” should pull in about $20 million at 4,130 sites. The Spider-Man reboot has performed well with $225 million domestically in its first 13 days.

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