‘Dunkirk’ Claims Box Office Victory With $50.5 Million Opening

Universal bucks the adult comedy slump with “Girls Trip,” while “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” fails to launch

Riding strong word of mouth and rave reviews, Warner Bros.’ “Dunkirk” took the top spot at the box office this weekend with $50.5 million, blowing by the $30-40 million pre-weekend projections set by independent trackers.

By comparison, director Christopher Nolan’s previous film, “Interstellar,” made $49.5 million over a five-day opening in November 2014, and went on to nearly post a 4x multiple with a $188 million domestic total. IMAX, which supplied the cameras for the project, played a major factor in pushing the film past projection windows. On 402 IMAX screens, “Dunkirk” made $11.7 million for a per screen average of $29,129 and 23 percent of the film’s opening haul. CinemaScore demographics were 60 percent male and 40 percent female, with 76 percent of audiences above the age of 25. “Dunkirk” was received well by all demos, with an A- on CinemaScore and a 92 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

That’s not the only good news for WB. On Saturday, “Wonder Woman” became the highest grossing film of the summer, passing “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” with $389 million after an estimated eighth weekend total of $4.6 million. Globally, the film has a tally of $779.4 million, with Japan still to get a release.

In second place this weekend is Universal’s “Girls’ Trip,” which served as very successful counter-programming with a $30.4 million opening, the highest for director Malcolm D. Lee. While other adult comedies like “Baywatch” and “Rough Night” have struggled to find traction, “Girls Trip” has earned the highest opening for the genre in 2017. In fact, its opening is nearly identical to the $30 million Universal earned two years ago from another R-rated comedy, “Trainwreck,” in the exact same release frame.

“Girls Trip” got heavy social media promotion from its leading ladies, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish, and female audiences responded in droves. Demographic breakdowns showed 79 percent female and 21 percent male, with 59 percent African-American, 19 percent Caucasian and 17 percent Hispanic. Combined, they gave the film the coveted A+ CinemaScore, while critics were just as effusive in their praise with an 89 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sitting on the other end of the spectrum is STX/EuropaCorp’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” which only made $17 million in its opening weekend for a fifth place finish. STX is distributing the film domestically through its deal with EuropaCorp — which is owned by “Valerian” writer-director Luc Besson — but did not factor into its $180 million budget. Like Besson’s most famous film, “The Fifth Element,” “Valerian” will require overseas markets to carry the load. Among audiences who did see the film, it only received a B- on CinemaScore, on top of a 55 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

Between “Girls Trip” and “Valerian” were “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “War for the Planet of the Apes.” Spidey took third this weekend with a third frame of $22 million, pushing its domestic tally to $251 million. “War for the Planet of the Apes,” meanwhile, took a hard hit in its second weekend, falling 64 percent from its $57.5 million opening to $20.4 million for a ten-day total of $97.8 million. That’s a 30 percent drop from the $139.2 million ten-day total made by the film’s 2014 predecessor, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”