Anyone who wondered if Christopher Nolan‘s name alone would be enough to bring in audiences to a bonafide war movie had their mouth shut by the time that Friday ended. Whereas so many (better) war films before have floundered at the box office under a general disinterest in such a topic, Nolan’s Dunkirk, which tells of the campaign to bring hundreds of thousands of English soldiers home from the titular Nazi-occupied city, is currently at the top of the box office and will almost certainly take the weekend over newcomers like Girls Trip and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
By the end of Friday, Dunkirk had $19.8 million in the bank already, whereas Girls Trip, currently in second, had an impressive $11.6 million. Dunkirk still has a ways to go to make up its $150 million budget, though I imagine the UK market will gobble this movie up and then ask politely for seconds. Girls Trip, on the other hand, already looks primed to make up its budget – about $19 million – by the end of this weekend. If it shows any staying power next weekend against Atomic Blonde and The Emoji Movie, expect Girls Trip 2 to be announced before the end of the year, if not in the next few weeks.
Still, Nolan’s achievement here should not be overlooked. Dunkirk counts as continued proof that mainstream audiences will indeed return to a stylish director that they know and trust in the big studio system, despite a general feeling in most franchises that the director’s vision isn’t as important as test screenings and marketing check lists. It’s a lesson that Marvel and DC are slowly embracing, if not fully. The use of Cop Car director Jon Watts to direct Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is currently in the fourth spot with $6.3 million, is just one example of this. Hiring Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman would be another.
Then again, a brand name like Luc Besson doesn’t seem to be helping his dream project, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, get too far off the ground at the domestic box office. The science-fiction epic arrived in third place with $6.5 million and will be fighting it out with Spider-Man and War for the Planet of the Apes, which came in fifth on Friday with $5.9 million, for the rest of the weekend. If the foreign markets don’t fall in love with Valerian, Besson and his Europa imprint will likely be in serious financial trouble. Like all things, there is an upside and downside to the whole “trust the director” idiom.
Here’s your top five for Friday:
|Title||Friday Domestic BO||Total Domestic BO|
|2. ‘Girls Trip’||$11,680,000||$11,680,000|
|3. ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’||$6,520,000||$6,520,000|
|4. ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’||$6,335,000||$236,036,581|
|5. ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’||$5,900,000||$83,250,914|