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Box Office: ‘Emoji Movie’ Goes to Battle With ‘Dunkirk,’ ‘Atomic Blonde’ for Top Spot

UPDATE, 4:40 p.m.Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” and animated comedy “The Emoji Movie” are in a battle for the top spot at the domestic box office with “Dunkirk” heading for about $28 million, estimates showed Friday.

“Emoji” appeared headed for about $25 million at 4,075 locations. Charlize Theron’s “Atomic Blonde” is performing slightly under expectations and is forecasted to finish in the $18 million to $20 million range at 3,304 sites.

Should Warner Bros.’ “Dunkirk” prevail, it will be the first title to top back-to-back weekends since the studio’s “Wonder Woman” did so on June 9-11. But “The Emoji Movie” is showing decent drawing power with an opening day in the $9 million range, although the core demographic of children plus some rain in the Eastern United States makes predictions problematic.

“Dunkirk” topped expectations during its opening weekend with $50.5 million and boosted that to $74.3 million as of Thursday. Even if it doesn’t win the weekend again, it’s still performing impressively with a relatively modest 44% decline for its second session at 3,748 venues. The studio has positioned “Dunkirk,” which recounts the 1940 evacuation of 340,000 Allied troops from France, as an early awards season contender.

“The Emoji Movie” took in $900,000 on Thursday night previews, then expanded to 4,069 venues on Friday. 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 3% 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.

Focus Features and Sierra/Affinity’s spy thriller “Atomic Blonde” had 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.

Critics have supported the R-rated “Atomic Blonde,” which has a 73% “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.

Early audience surveys by comScore-Screen Engine’s PostTrak showed 33% of the audience gave “Atomic Blonde” an “excellent” rating and another 38% rated it “very good.”

Universal’s second weekend of R-rated comedy “Girls Trip” appears headed for fourth place with about $15 million at 2,648 locations after an impressive $31.2 million opening. It took in a solid $42.2 million in its first six days.

Overall summer business 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 comScore. That’s resulted in downturn in year to date domestic grosses, which have dipped 1.1% to $6.65 billion as of July 26.

“Wonder Woman” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” have been the summer’s only significant strong performers. “Wonder Woman” recently passed the Guardians sequel as the 27th highest domestic grosser of all time with $391.9 million after eight weeks.

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