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‘Dunkirk’ and ‘Girls Trip’ Prove the Box-Office Value of Original Ideas; ‘Valerian’ Does Not

Both "Dunkirk" and "Girls Trip" were critical and box-office successes, outperforming expectations.

"Dunkirk"

“Dunkirk”

Warner Bros.

This is an unusual summer weekend, with three original non-franchise titles opening wide. Even odder: Two of them did extremely well.

Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” opened above advance estimates with $50 million. Not only does that place him on par with “Interstellar” in 2014 (adjusted opening gross: $50.9 million), but he did so with a film that didn’t specifically appeal to younger audiences, or even Americans.

If “Dunkirk” goes on to the four-times multiple as “Interstellar” (which was boosted by Thanksgiving and Christmas play time, rather than the summer dog-days ahead), it could score close to $200 million. With initial international grosses strong ($55 million, with no China, Japan, Germany, or Latin America yet), it could reach the break-even minimum of $500 million worldwide.

Another overperformer is Malcolm D. Lee’s “Girls Trip,” which scored a rare A+ Cinemascore (“Dunkirk” was a decent A-) and earned $30 million. That’s only $3 million less than the best African-American lead-character release of the year, “Get Out” (and one of the few to open since then). At under $20 million in estimated production cost, and the potential for strong word-of-mouth among women (79 percent of the initial audience, which was 59 percent African-American), it could see an ultimate $100 million haul.

STX Films/Europacorp

Unfortunately, Luc Besson’s French production “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” didn’t have the same luck. At an estimated cost of around $200 million, it had to settle for a $17 million opening. While its intended audience is international, it will take a massive performance to make up the difference.

The Top 10 totaled $171 million. That’s about $7 million less than the same weekend last year and the year-to-date decline continues.

"War for the Planet of the Apes."

“War for the Planet of the Apes.”

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fo

Hurting the cause was the continuing collapse of “War for the Planet of the Apes.” Reviews were great, but the opening was the smallest of the trilogy and its 64 percent drop put the film in fourth place after debuting at #1. The first two entries fell only half in their second weekends.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” came in at #3, with a third weekend drop of 50 percent. That makes expensive sequels in this perennial Marvel series more challenging than expected, but it gave the studio a needed mid-summer hit that will rank among the season’s top performers.

“The Big Sick”

Amazon Studios

A foursome of films kept their declines between 30-35 percent. “Despicable Me 3,” “Baby Driver,” “The Big Sick,” and “Wonder Woman” (Warner Bros.) all more than held their own against three new films. “Wonder Woman” now is the top-grossing domestic film of the summer, with its next goal to reach $400 million.

Last year saw two summer films open past this weekend to over $50 million with “Jason Bourne” ($59 million) and “Suicide Squad” ($133 million). We probably won’t see that again before the fall. Expect the 2016 falloff to accelerate over the next few weeks.

"Dunkirk"

“Dunkirk”

Warner Bros.

The Top 10

1. Dunkirk (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 94; Est. budget: $150 million

$50,500,000 in 3,720 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $13,575; Cumulative: $50,500,000

2. Girls Trip (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic: 72; Est. budget: $19 million

$30,371,000 in 2,591 theaters; PTA: $11,722; Cumulative: $30,371,000

3. Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony)  (20th Century Fox) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$22,010,000 (-50%) in 4,130 theaters (-218); PTA: $4,130; Cumulative: $251,712,000

4. War for the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$20,400,000 (-64%) in 4,100 theaters (+78); PTA: $4,976; Cumulative: $97,751,000

5. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (STX)  NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 51; Est. budget: $200 million

$17,020,000 in 3,553 theaters; PTA: $4,790; Cumulative: $17,020,000

6. Despicable Me 3 (Universal)  (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$12,714,000 (-34%) in 3,525 theaters (-630); PTA: $3,607; Cumulative: $213,323,000

7. Baby Driver (Sony)  (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$6,000,000 (-31%) in 2,503 theaters (-540); PTA: $2,397; Cumulative: $84,234,000

8. The Big Sick (Lionsgate)  (20th Century Fox) Week; Last weekend #5

$5,000,000 (-34%) in 2,597 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,925; Cumulative: $24,539,000

9. Wonder Woman (Warner Bros.)  (20th Century Fox) Week 7; Last weekend #6

$4,630,000 (-32%) in 1,971 theaters (-773); PTA: $2,349; Cumulative: $389,033,000

10. Wish Upon (Broad Green)  (20th Century Fox) Week 2; Last weekend #7

$2,478,000 (-%) in 2,154 theaters (-96); PTA: $1,150; Cumulative: $10,522,000

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