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Box Office: ‘Dark Tower’ Barely Edging Out ‘Dunkirk’ With Dismal $18 Million

The Dark Tower” is set to (just barely) edge out “Dunkirk” as the summer box office loses even more steam, early estimates showed Friday.

Sony and MRC’s adaptation is projected to win the weekend with about $18 million at 3,449 locations for the Friday-Sunday period while Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic “Dunkirk” should finish a close second with about $16 million at 4,014 sites. Should the estimate hold, “The Dark Tower” will post the second-lowest total of a weekend winner this year, above only the Feb. 3 to Feb. 5 Super Bowl frame, when the third weekend of “Split” won with $14.4 million.

Sony’s second weekend of “The Emoji Movie” appears headed for third place with $12 million to $14 million. Aviron’s launch of Halle Berry’s “Kidnap” is pegged for a fourth-place battle with Annapurna’s expanded run of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit” in the $8 million to $10 million range. Universal’s third weekend of “Girls Trip” and Focus Features’ second frame of “Atomic Blonde” are also contending for fourth place.

The $18 million projected performance by “The Dark Tower” is in line with Sony’s recent projections, but lower than the earlier $20 million to $25 million estimate from other studios. “The Dark Tower,” based on Stephen King’s series of eight novels, cost $60 million to make. The film stars Idris Elba as the Gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey as the villain Man in Black.

The moderate domestic start for “The Dark Tower” will add to the need for the film to perform well in international markets if it’s to recoup the investment. The movie begins its international rollout this weekend in Russia, smaller territories in Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Southeast Asia. It expand through Europe next week, with UK, Australia and Latin America coming later in August.

Nikolaj Arcel directed from a script by the writing teams of Akiva Goldsman & Jeff Pinkner and Anders Thomas Jensen & Nikolaj Arcel. “The Dark Tower” has been panned by critics, earning a dismal 16% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Owen Gleiberman of Variety came in with a positive notice: “It’s a competent and watchable paranoid metaphysical video game that doesn’t overstay its welcome.”

Strong reviews don’t appear to he helping “Detroit,” which had been forecast for the $10 million to $15 million range from 3,007 locations, after taking in $365,455 last weekend from 20 screens. “Detroit” has an impressive 88% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, launching on the 50th anniversary of the devastating 1967 race riots in Detroit, is directed by Bigelow from a script by her “Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” collaborator Mark Boal. The movie, which may have significant awards season potential, is toplined by “Star Wars” breakout John Boyega, Will Poulter, and Algee Smith.

“Dunkirk” and “Girls Trip” have been the sole bright lights at the domestic box office in recent weeks following their openings on July 22. “Dunkirk” has grossed an impressive $116 million in its first two weeks of domestic release.

Kidnap” is performing in line with modest expectations at 2,378 sites. The film was originally slated for a 2015 release from Relativity, and was delayed several times until the company went bankrupt. Berry plays a mother attempting to rescue her six-year-old son (Sage Correa) after he’s kidnapped.

The new titles will deepen the decline of what’s shaping up as a disappointing summer overall at the domestic box office, which has plunged 8.4% to $3.12 billion as of Aug. 2, according to comScore. The same weekend last year saw “Suicide Squad” shatter records with a $133 million launch.

As a result, the 2017 domestic box office is down 2% to $6.88 billion. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, said things could still take an upbeat turn.

“On the bright side, August has historically been one of the more interesting months to be a moviegoer with some of the edgiest, most innovative, and unique films on the calendar to hit the multiplex in any given year,” he said. “In the coming weeks, ‘Logan Lucky,’ ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard,’ and ‘Annabelle: Creation’ could grab audiences as we hit the home stretch of a very tumultuous summer season.”

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