‘Dunkirk’ to Give Christopher Nolan Another Box Office Win With $51 Million Start

The WWII epic is posting an opening similar to that of Nolan’s last film, “Interstellar”

Christopher Nolan is on his way to earning another box office hit with his critically acclaimed WWII film, “Dunkirk.” The film was expected to make $30-40 million in its opening this weekend, but thanks to incredibly strong word-of-mouth, it is now looking at around $51 million from 3,720 screens after making $19.8 million on day one.

Since breaking into the public consciousness in 2005 with “Batman Begins,” Nolan has put out a series of hit films both original and adapted. With this opening, “Dunkirk” has a higher start than the $49.5 million five-day opening earned by Nolan’s last film, “Interstellar,” in November 2014. That film went on to post a $188 million total and $675 million worldwide en route to five Oscar nominations.

If “Dunkirk” can get a high Friday-to-Saturday jump, the projected weekend total could get closer to the $62.7 million made by Nolan’s summer 2010 hit “Inception.” Like that Best Picture nominee, the Oscar buzz surrounding Nolan’s take on the famous Dunkirk evacuation of 1940 could push it to another strong multiple against a reported $150 million budget.

There was skepticism at the start of the summer movie season over whether a PG-13 rated war film could gain traction in the middle of July, outside of the usual fall release frame for such prestige films. But quality has seen “Dunkirk” through, with audiences giving it an A- on CinemaScore and critics giving it 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Overseas, “Dunkirk” has made $21.2 million from 46 markets, including a $3.7 million opening day total in the U.K., double the opening day return for “Interstellar.”

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In second place is Universal’s “Girls Trip,” which is set to break the recent slump for adult comedies. Against a reported budget of $19 million, the female-fronted party comedy is looking at an opening of $28 million from 2,591 screens, right at the top of the $23-28 million range set pre-weekend by independent trackers. It’s by far the best opening weekend for an R-rated comedy in 2017, and is on pace to exceed the $26.2 million opening made in 2011 by another hit Universal raunchy ladies’ comedy, “Bridesmaids.” That film went on to gross $169.1 million domestically and $288.3 million worldwide. “Girls Trip” has been received just as warmly as “Bridesmaids,” holding 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a sterling A+ on CinemaScore.

The news was not nearly as good for STX/EuropaCorp’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” a film with a budget of $180 million that is bombing hard with an estimated $16 million opening after making $6.5 million on Friday. Pre-weekend projections had the film making $18-22 million, but now “Valerian” looks like it will not be able to beat holdover totals for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “War for the Planet of the Apes.” Written and directed by the man behind “The Fifth Element,” Luc Besson, and based on the French comic book series “Valerian and Laureline,” the film has received a decidedly mixed reaction from critics and audiences with a 55 percent RT score and a B- on CinemaScore.

Among holdovers, “War for the Planet of the Apes” comes in third with an estimated $21.7 million, pushing it to a ten-day total of just under $100 million domestic. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is fourth, pushing past the $250 million domestic mark with an estimated $20.5 million third frame, meaning it will pass the $262 million domestic total made by 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” in the coming week.

But the biggest news is that “Wonder Woman,” in its eighth weekend, is storming towards the $400 million domestic milestone and is now just $500,000 behind “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” with a $386.5 million domestic cume. On Saturday, the same day Warner Bros. is expected to officially announce the film’s sequel at San Diego Comic-Con, the film will become the highest grossing movie of the summer and pass “Guardians’ for the No. 2 domestic spot among 2017 films, second only to “Beauty and the Beast,” which made $504 million.