Dunkirk Triumphs

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The British didn’t win the battle of Dunkirk in 1940. But thanks in part to the ingenuity of some regular-but-heroic folks determined to help rescue Allied soldiers trapped on that French beach, most of them survived.

Dunkirk, the movie, meanwhile needed no rescuing whatsoever. The latest effort from acclaimed British director Christopher Nolan—perhaps best known for his much loved Dark Knight trilogy, as well as the ambitious films Interstellar and Inception—brought all of his storytelling prowess to bear on this project. Dunkirk sailed to an estimated $50.5 million at the domestic box office. Box Office Mojo notes that Nolan’s PG-13 war film was the first non-franchise movie to top the box office chart since March.

The raunchy female comedy Girls Trip hit the bullseye with its intended demographic to nab the No. 2 spot with a strong $30.4 million opening frame. Not surprisingly for a film with four black actresses (Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish), audiences were reportedly 79% female and 59% African American. Viewers apparently adored the film’s nonstop gaggle of graphic sex gags, giving the flick a rare A+ CinemaScore rating after seeing it.

Spider-Man: Homecoming, meanwhile, may have dropped another 50% during its third weekend in theaters, but it was still good for $22.0 million. And if you’re tempted to shed a tear for Peter Parker’s precipitous plunge from his first-week perch atop the cinematic  pinnacle, well, don’t: In 17 days, Spidey’s webs have pulled in whopping $571.1 million total—another smash hit for Marvel and Disney, and one that’ll rope in a lot more than that before it’s all said and done.

Despite strong critical reviews, War for the Planet of the Apes was off a steep 64% in its second weekend in theaters, good enough for No. 4.

Rounding out the top five at the box office this week was French director Luc Besson’s personal passion project, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. This frenetic sci-fi explosion of action and color managed a meager $17.0 million—which would have been a great haul for a low-budget indie movie, but which likely dooms Valerian to a spot on the all-time epic bomb list given its galaxy-sized price tag.

The film, which is the most expensive ever from a French studio and the most expensive ever made outside of the United States, reportedly cost $205 million. Industry insiders have said it’ll need to nab $400 million just to break even. And while big-budget eye candy—and there’s a lot of it here, with a truly eye-popping 2,355 special effects—often does better in overseas markets, Valerian might just need theaters on another planet to help its director earn enough Euros to keep studio EuropaCorp in business.

In other box office news, Wonder Womans modest $4.6 million take in its eighth weekend was good enough to propel Diana Prince’s pic past Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for the title of biggest film of the summer. (Beauty and the Beast remains No. 1 overall for 2017.) Wonder Woman has lassoed $389.0 million domestically and $727.4 total with international markets added in (and that’s without Japan, where the film will open August 25). The film’s sequel was announced at Comic-Con in San Diego over the weekend.

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Evan Weisensel 28 days ago
Dang shame Valerian isn't doing better. It looked like a lot of fun. Also, there needs to be more big, weird sic-fi epics in theaters because I'm honestly finding Star Wars to be kind of boring, rote, and safe.
Natasha Cover 28 days ago
Valerian was absolutely excellent.  I'm disappointed that it didn't do better; I loved the visuals and story, though the acting could be a tad weak at times.
Truth be told, I don't think that the majority of audiences want independent sci-fi stories right now.  Franchises or those based on certain books seem to do well, but something more original (the comic Valerian is based off of isn't that big in America) fail.
Dunkirk was also excellent, but I enjoyed Valerian far more.  I'd recommend watching it!
Evan Weisensel 28 days ago
Neat. Although I've never been a big fan of Nolan or war movies, so Dunkirk doesn't seem quite like my cup of tea at the moment.
charitysplace 27 days ago
I hadn't even heard of Valerian until after the fact, but... I think two factors contribute to movies doing poorly at the box office:

1) People know they can just rent the DVD in four months.
2) Online cam bootlegs.

There's also a factor of people having way more options -- thousands of them via online streaming services, so going to the movies is no longer a novelty. It's a long drive for me, so I go to maybe 3 a year, if that; I just wait and stream / rent / watch on Netflix / get them from the library later on.

The shame is that a lot of original, even terrific, movies get panned at the box office -- the bonus is Hollywood could care less, so they'll still make them; all they have to do is port them into China and make a billion off them there. America is, ironically, no longer Hollywood's market. :P