Weekend Box Office: ‘Dunkirk’ Takes the Lead with $50.5 Million

     July 23, 2017

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Christopher Nolan‘s Dunkirk will prove to be the winner of the weekend at the box office by quite a large gait, bringing in $50.5 million at the domestic market, according to estimates. And as I said yesterday, it’s a win tied almost exclusively to the name recognition of Mr. Nolan, who has a bit of a history of bringing audiences in for movies they might otherwise skip like the faux-cerebral head-trip known as Inception. With the exception of marquee names Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, and Terrence Malick, very few directors have been capable of getting viewers to pony up for the pleasure of watching the horror of war. That Nolan has also proved to be one of those names says enough about his current status in popular filmmaking.

girls-trip-posterFor me, Dunkirk is the perfect example of what Nolan does well and horribly at once. He’s not shy to present the bleak atmosphere of war or violence, but he cowers when it comes to showing the bloody, gruesome effects of war. There’s only one scene of memorable bloodshed in the movie, and neither a bullet, a bomb, nor any other weapon has anything to do with it. When soldiers are bombed, their bodies seem to simply disappear rather than be ripped apart or littered with shrapnel. This almost instinctive refusal to look at the real physical toll of war weakens his portraits of heroism by half, and for all his truly breathtaking technical accomplishments – props to DP Hoyte van Hoytema as well – the narrative is led by the proverbial hand by Hans Zimmer‘s speaker-rattling score.

Dunkirk will still have a ways to go to make up its $150 million price tag, but that should not prove to be a sizable issue, especially considering its likely popularity in the UK. In comparison, Girls Trip, which came in second with over $30.3 million, has already made up its production budget and a hunk of its marketing budget in its opening weekend. Say what you will about Malcolm D. Lee‘s frustrating lack of style and his suffocating focus on plot over character, but the man knows how to build a hit with an extremely modest budget and make it sing with an excellent cast. In this case, the simple joys of seeing Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Regina Hall cut loose was more than enough to get asses in seats over the weekend.

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Image via Warner Bros.

The pleasures of watching Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne yammer at one another, however, was not enough to get Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets out of orbit. Luc Besson‘s dazzling yet entirely empty science-fiction epic arrived in fifth place with$17 million, losing to formidable holdovers Spider-Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes. Spider-Man landed in third with $ 22 million while Apes brought in $20.4 in its second frame to arrive in the fourth spot. Though one would like to support the more inventive world of Valerian, which had no name recognition to build off of other than that of Mr. Besson, in this particular case, the franchises simply offered more coherent, relatable, and resonant films than the one that features a small reptile beast that excretes energy-producing pearls. You can’t win them all.

Here’s your top five:

Title Weekend Domestic BO Total Domestic BO
1. ‘Dunkirk’ $50,500,000 $50,500,000
2. ‘Girls Trip’ $30,370,720 $30,370,720
3. ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming $22,010,000 $251,711,581
4. ‘War for the Planet of Apes’ $20,400,000 $97,750,914
5. ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ $17,020,000 $17,020,000

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