After a decade in development and talent the likes of Damon Lindelof, J.J. Abrams, and Ron Howard taking a swing at cracking it, the task of adapting Stephen King’s The Dark Tower finally fell to Akiva Goldsman, a man who has a slew of box-office misfires to his credit. Goldsman is behind Transformers: The Last Knight, Rings, Insurgent, Winter’s Tale, Batman and Robin, Batman Forever, and Lost in Space, and yet he was still given the keys to what could have potentially been a huge franchise that extended from the big-screen to the small-screen. Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead) is still expected to serve as showrunner on The Dark Tower television series, which is currently in development, but its future may be in doubt after a disappointing weekend at the box office for the film. The two projects are said to be “independent,” but Idris Elba and Tom Taylor are expected to show up in the TV series.
The film from director Nikolaj Arcel received poor reviews (18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), a lackluster Cinemascore (B), little good in the way of positive word of mouth, which all led to an anemic $19.5 million in its opening weekend. That’s not too terrible considering that the film only cost $60 million to produce, but it’s unlikely to earn back its budget domestically, which does not bode well for the TV series unless the network that ultimately takes a gamble on it can effectively separate it from the film. It is yet another failed attempt this summer to successfully get a franchise off the ground (following The Mummy and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword).
It also means that August is off to a poor start. The first weekend of August has typically been one of the last, best gasps of the summer season, but the opening of The Dark Tower puts it around 60th all time for August. To put that into perspective, The Dukes of Hazzard movie opened on the same weekend back in 2005 with a $30 million haul.
The box-office’s next three entries were all holdovers. Dunkirk continues to quietly dominate, falling only 36 percent in its third weekend. In fact, it’s only behind The Dark Tower by $2 million, as its $17.6 million weekend edges it over $130 million after three weekends. It’s faring even better overseas, so far, and should triple its $100 million production budget by the end of the weekend. Christopher Nolan continues to be as close to a sure thing as there is in Hollywood these days.
The Emoji Movie claimed the third spot, generating $12.6 million and closing in on $50 million domestically. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Meanwhile, Girls Trip looks to join Get Out and Split as the year’s biggest sleepers. With $11.5 million in its third weekend, it’s crossed the $85 million on only a $20 million price tag.
Fifth place went to Halle Berry’s latest, Kidnap, which I genuinely thought was the worst movie of 2017. Clearly, not everyone agrees, as its Rotten Tomatoes score is double that of The Dark Tower and audiences liked it slightly more than the Stephen King adaptation (Kidnap fetched a B+ Cinemascore). The $10 million opening weekend is already half of the film’s budget, but a new film studio Aviron bought it for a song ($3 million) after it sat on the shelf for a few years, so it should easily cross into profitable territory.
Sixth and seventh places went to holdovers this weekend, as well. Spider-Man: Homecoming is shaping up as the third highest grossing film of the summer. It scored nearly $9 million in its 5th weekend and should cross the $300 million mark by next weekend. Atomic Blonde, meanwhile, is performing adequately. With $8 million more at the box office, its $33 million cumulative gross edges it past its $30 million cost.
Eighth place went to Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, which expanded nationwide this weekend. It scored $7.3 million on a $35 million price tag, so if it expects to break even it will need to stick around in theaters until awards season (the 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and the A- Cinemascore gives it a shot).
Finally, War for the Planet of the Apes ($5.9 million, $130 million total) and Despicable Me 3 ($5.5 million/$241 million) close out the top ten.
Next weekend sees three more wide releases. Annabelle: Creation — another movie in the Conjuring series — should put up big numbers for a horror crowd starved for a decent scary flick this summer. The Glass Castle comes from an exceptional director (Destin Daniel Cretto, Short Term 12) and features a strong cast in Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts, but there’s not much buzz for the movie (I plan to watch the crap out of it, but it is in my wheelhouse). Meanwhile, The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature should wipe the floor with The Emoji Movie, as parents opt for the slightly less terrible option in theaters.