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Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ Eyes $40 Million in Early Box Office Tracking

Dunkirk” isn’t landing at the box office for another few weekends, but according to early industry tracking, it could shoot up to $40 million.

The World War II movie, from Warner Bros. and director Christopher Nolan’s own Syncopy Inc., looks to land in the $30 million to $40 million range if estimates are accurate. Those numbers come from outside industry tracking, not Warner Bros.

Slated for a July 21 release, it should lead a fairly busy weekend against two other films — “Girls Trip” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” One key factor that could influence “Dunkirk’s” first weekend tally is that it’s opening two weekends after “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is expected to post huge numbers, and the weekend after “Planet of the Apes.” A lot of attention will be paid to how those movies perform, and hold into their second and third weekends. Tracking for “Dunkirk” is early, so the numbers are bound to change between now and its release.

Even $40 million would be Nolan’s lowest opening in wide release since “The Prestige” made $14.8 million in 2006. That said, his modern slate has concentrated heavily on the reliably bankable Caped Crusader — in 2008, “Batman: The Dark Knight” opened to $158.4 million, and four years later “The Dark Knight Rises” made even more, $160.9 million. Nolan’s original works have also done well. “Interstellar” opened low domestically, for its price tag, with $47.5 million, but was boosted by a huge take overseas. “Inception” made $62.8 million in its first weekend. Still, unlike “Dunkirk,” “Interstellar” and “Inception” had major movie stars in top billing.

“Dunkirk” is set during the early stages of World War II when retreating Allied soldiers were evacuated from a beach in France. The ensemble cast is led by newcomers Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, and Jack Lowden. Harry Styles makes his acting debut (outside of “Saturday Night Live” and his own music videos). Styles’ hordes of fans on social media who helped sell out his first world tour in seconds, should come into play, should the superstar promote the film on those channels. Other familiar faces including Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy appear further down the call sheet.

“Durkirk’s” release comes 19 years to the weekend after “Saving Private Ryan” opened in theaters to $30.6 million, and went on to win five Oscars. Other top-earners in the World War II genre include “Pearl Harbor,” which opened to $59.1 million in 2001, and “Inglourious Basterds” which made $38.1 million in its opening weekend.

Reviews have yet to be released, but social media buzz for the film has topped the charts for a week in December, and again in May — both times a trailer for the film was released. Warner Bros. announced on Wednesday that the movie will appear in 125 70MM theaters, or the widest release in the format in 25 years.

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