Weekend Box Office (July 21 - 23, 2017)
THIS WEEKEND Brand name director Christopher Nolan topped the box office with his World War II thriller Dunkirk which easily led the marketplace with an opening of an estimated $50.5M. It was the first non-franchise movie to reach the top spot all summer long. Warner Bros. averaged a strong $13,575 from 3,720 locations for a film which was not an easy sell. It more than doubled the $23.7M debut of Brad Pitt's acclaimed WW2 film Fury.
Nolan has long been a fan of shooting with IMAX cameras and fans flocked to those screens to see the complete vision for his latest story. A very high 23% of the weekend gross came from those 402 screens, about double the rate of usual action tentpoles. The PG-13 film earned stellar reviews and even some Oscar buzz which helped to excite fans and beat out the $47.5M of the filmmaker's last movie Interstellar.
Studio data showed that the audience was 60% male and 76% over 25 - not surprising for a period war story. Overseas, Dunkirk bowed to $55.4M from 46 markets making for a global opening weekend of $106M. Several major international territories are still to open between now and September.
Dazzling the box office with a fantastic debut was the raunchy buddy comedy Girls Trip which grossed an estimated $30.4M which was the best opening for an R-rated comedy in two years. The Universal hit averaged a potent $11,721 from 2,591 locations and has plenty of potential ahead of it. In only its first two days of release it grossed more than this summer's other R-rated women's party trip movie Rough Night has in its entire run. Reviews were solid and audiences loved the bold envelope-pushing party humor giving it a fabulous A+ CinemaScore grade.
Opening weekend demographics show that there is plenty of moviegoers not reached yet. Studio data indicated that the crowd was 79% female and 59% black. It was an even split between those over and under 30. As buzz spreads, many who did not feel the need to see Girls Trip in the first three days will become convinced and show up in the days and weeks ahead. And the lucrative summer playtime means this laugh riot, which cost about $20M to produce, could be headed north of the $100M mark. Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, and breakout star Tiffany Haddish led the cast.
Leading the crop of holdovers was Spider-Man: Homecoming with an estimated $22M, falling 50% in its third round. Sony has crossed the quarter-billion domestic mark for the fifth time across its six-pack of webslinger films with a new cume of $251.7M. Reaching the $310-320M range seems possible. Overseas grosses climbed to $320M this weekend giving Homecoming a $571.7M worldwide total with China and Japan still to open. Passing $800M may be in the cards.
Last week's top film War for the Planet of the Apes took a sharp fall in its second weekend dropping 64% to an estimated $20.4M in fourth place. Fox has collected $97.8M to date. Despite being called by many as the best film in the Apes trilogy, War will end up as the lowest-grossing chapter domestically. Global is now $174.9M. Despite sensational reviews and strong word-of-mouth from audiences, franchise films can tumble by large amounts in the second weekend, especially if a major new film targeting the same audience opens. Homecoming was in the same boat last week with a 62% sophomore tumble.
The expensive sci-fi adventure Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets opened poorly and ranked fifth with an estimated $17M. Averaging $4,790 from 3,553 locations, the PG-13 space flick never excited audiences that much and entered a marketplace jam packed with bigger options for action fans. Reviews were mixed for the EuropaCorp production, there was no starpower to tap into, and the property was not well known in America. The production budget was at least $150M, but international markets are where the real business is expected to be.
2017's highest grossing toon followed as Despicable Me 3 banked an estimated $12.7M, down 34%, for a new total of $213.3M. Universal smashed the half-billion mark overseas where the cume rose $514.1M for a sturdy $727.4M worldwide.
Successful R-rated original films followed with low declines. Sony's Baby Driver slipped 31% to an estimated $6M for a sum of $84.2M to date on its way to breaking $100M. The romantic comedy The Big Sick grossed an estimated $5M, off just 34%, giving Amazon Studios and Lionsgate $24.5M.
In its eighth weekend in the top ten, the super hero smash Wonder Woman claimed the summer box office crown becoming the top-grossing film of the season. Sliding just 32% to an estimated $4.6M, the leggy Warner Bros. hit upped its cume to $389M passing the $387.3M of the summer kickoff movie Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. which started its run with an opening weekend that was actually $43M bigger. International sales on Wonder Woman continue to run even with domestic at $390.4M for a new global gross of $779.4M. Breaking $400M domestic and $800M worldwide are guaranteed.
Rounding out the top ten was the fright flop Wish Upon with an estimated $2.5M, down 55%, and just $10.5M after the second weekend for Broad Green.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $171.1M which was off 4% from last year when Star Trek Beyond opened at number one with $59.3M; but up 24% from 2015 when Ant-Man stayed in the top spot with $24.9M.
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Watch the trailer for A Wrinkle in Time.
Compared to projections, Dunkirk opened stronger than my $38M forecast while both Girls Trip and Valerian were on target with my respective predictions of $29M and $16M.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when more non-sequels The Emoji Movie and Atomic Blonde open.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: July 23, 2017 at 2:50PM ET
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