There aren’t very many directors these days that can guarantee a profit on an original idea, especially on an original idea that cost $150 million to turn into a film. Not even Spielberg has had that much success in recent years (four of his last 5 films have failed to break $100 million domestically). But Christopher Nolan — who earned the opportunity to make original blockbusters with the Dark Knight trilogy — looks like he’ll be three for three now with Interstellar, Inception, and this weekend’s Dunkirk. The Nolan directed World War II film starring Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy (inasmuch as anyone “stars” in Dunkirk) managed an impressive $51 million at the box office.
While $51 million doesn’t sound that great for a $150 million film (It’s only the 13th best opening of the year), Nolan’s films typically have great legs. Inception opened with $62 million and legged it out to $292 million while Interstellar transformed a $47 million opening into $188 million (and another $487 million overseas). The Nolan trajectory should ultimately give Dunkirk a $200 million domestic box office, and with Nolan, the sky is the limit with international box-office. It should also benefit from great reviews (92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and a solid A- Cinemascore. Word of mouth, Nolan’s fan base, and relatively weak competition for the rest of the summer means Nolan will find a way to turn a profit on an original property again. It’s good we can count on someone.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Lee’s Girls Trip racked up a very impressive $28 million this weekend on a $20 million budget. The movie, which is an absolute blast, gained an A+ from Cinemascore, and even fetched an 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes thanks to a game cast, a lot of raunchy humor, and some surprisingly sweet heart (I adored this film). It also continues a great run for Malcolm Lee on relatively inexpensive budgets, following Best Man Holiday ($70 million) and Barbershop: The Next Cut ($54 million). It’s also a big break-out film for Tiffany Haddish, who went viral earlier this week with a fantastic story about Will Smith and Jada Pinkett on Kimmel.
Third place this weekend goes to War For The Planet Of The Apes which fell only 51 percent, which is pretty great for a blockbuster film. It added $21.7 million to bring it just shy of $100 million after 10 days. Spider-Man: Homecoming, with $21.6 million, also continues its great run, as it crosses the $250 million mark domestically (double that with international grosses).
In at 5th place is one of the summer biggest and quietest box-office bombs, Luc Besson’s Valerian And The City of A Thousand Planets. The film, at a cost of over $200 million, only managed a meager $16 million on its opening weekend. Mixed reviews, no buzz, and a lack of big stars all seemed to doom the film, which will have to heavily rely on worldwide grosses if it has any hope of breaking even (a very long shot, at best).
The rest of the weekend’s top ten were all holdovers. Despicable Me 3 added $11 million to bring its domestic total to $211 million (plus more than $400 million worldwide). Baby Driver added $5.7 million and has quietly nearly reached $85 million (on a budget half of that). The Big Sick collected another $4.6 million to bring its total to $24.1 million (and anything over $30 million is a win given the $12 million expense); Wonder Woman‘s $4 million in additional revenue now officially makes it the biggest movie of the summer (and the second biggest of the year, behind Beauty and the Beast) and the horror film Wish Upon rounds out the top ten with $2.4 million and $10 million cume.
Next weekend should be interesting. Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blond and T.J. Miller’s The Emoji Movie are both opening wide, and I honestly don’t know if they’ll be huge hits or complete misses.