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Box Office: ‘Atomic Blonde’ Explodes With $1.5 Million, Topping ‘Emoji Movie,’ on Thursday

Charlize Theron’s “Atomic Blonde” exploded with $1.5 million on Thursday night while Sony’s animated “The Emoji Movie” took in $900,000.

Focus Features and Sierra/Affinity’s spy thriller has been projected for an opening weekend in the low $20 million range from 3,304 sites. “Atomic Blonde,” which has a $30 million price tag, is set in 1989 Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The film screened at 2,685 North American locations during preview screenings that began Thursday at 7 p.m., while “The Emoji Movie” began showings at 5 p.m. at 2,205 venues.

Critics have supported the R-rated “Atomic Blonde,” which has a 76% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Theron portrays a top-level British spy dispatched to Berlin to take down an espionage ring. David Leitch, the co-director of “John Wick,” helmed the movie. James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, and Toby Jones also star.

“Atomic Blonde” scored similarly to Fox’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” which took in  $1.4 million on its way to a $36.2 million opening weekend on Feb. 13-15, 2015.

“The Emoji Movie” expands to 4,069 venues on Friday, with Sony projecting a $20 million debut while rival studios have forecasted as much as $30 million. The movie, which has a $50 million budget, shows the secret world inside a teen’s smartphone. T.J. Miller, Maya Rudolph, Christina Aguilera, Anna Faris, James Corden, Jennifer Coolidge, Sofia Vergara, and Patrick Stewart comprise the voice cast.

Critics have given a big thumbs down to “The Emoji Movie,” currently at 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, but the film’s core demographic of younger children is critic-proof. Sony has been actively promoting “The Emoji Movie,” with Miller parasailing into Cannes in May to help launch the movie’s first trailer, and will begin an international rollout next weekend.

The second frame of Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” could win the weekend for Warner Bros., making it the first title to go back-to-back since “Wonder Woman” did so on June 9-11. The World War II drama topped expectations during its opening weekend, with $50.5 million, and finished its first week at $74.3 million. The studio has positioned “Dunkirk,” which recounts the 1940 evacuation of 300,000 Allied troops from France, as an early awards season contender.

Universal’s second weekend of R-rated comedy “Girls Trip” will also be in contention after an impressive $31.2 million opening. It took in a solid $42.2 million in its first six days.

Overall summer business for North America is down 7% compared with last year at $2.89 billion as of July 26 and is not likely to improve this weekend, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. He pointed out that last year’s comparable weekend saw the $59.2 million debut of “Jason Bourne” and a $23.8 million opening weekend for “Bad Moms.”

“The silver lining may lie somewhere in the historically unpredictable month of August that has become a breeding ground for many a sleeper hit and a hotbed of numerous offbeat box office winners that provided late season boost to the bottom line,” he added.

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