Weekend Box Office: 'Dunkirk' Heads for $45M-$50M U.S. Debut; 'Valerian' Bombing

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Elsewhere, Universal’s ‘Girls Trip’ is breaking the R-rated comedy curse with a projected $25 million-plus opening.

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is easily winning the Friday box-office battle for a projected $45 million-$50 million debut, marking the best opening for a World War II movie in recent times.

Dunkirk is expected to earn $17 million or more on Friday, including $5.5 million in Thursday night previews. The critically acclaimed film, from Warner Bros., is playing in 3,720 locations and is getting a wide berth in Imax theaters and on 70mm screens.

Nolan’s last film, Interstellar, debuted to nearly $50 million over the long Thanksgiving holiday in 2014, including $47.5 million for the three-day weekend. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) was his biggest opening ($160.9 million), followed by 2008’s The Dark Knight ($158.4 million), 2005’s Batman Begins ($73 million, including a three-day weekend of $48.7 million) and 2010’s Inception ($62.8 million).

Dunkirk, recounting one of World War II’s most famous battles, stars Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Jack Lowden, One Direction’s Harry Styles and Aneurin Barnard. At 106 minutes, it is the shortest film of Nolan’s career, outside of his first movie. The production budget was reportedly $150 million or more.

Overseas, Dunkirk has earned $8.6 million in its first two days after beginning to roll out in select markets on Wednesday.
 
Elsewhere, Universal’s Girls Trip is laughing loudly in North America. The femme-centric pic looks to earn $11 million or more from 2,591 theaters on Friday, including $1.7 million in previews, for an opening in the $26 million range — the best showing of the year so far for an R-rated comedy, a genre that’s been decidedly challenged.

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee, who also produced alongside Will Packer, Girls Trip stars Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah as lifelong friends who go to New Orleans for a wild weekend of fun.

The news isn’t good for the weekend’s third new release, Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets. The sci-fi epic, costing at least $180 million to produce, is projected to gross $7 million on Friday from 3,553 theaters and $17 million for the weekend.

From Besson’s EuropaCorp and U.S. distributor STX Films, the film stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as a duo who must travel through space and time to save the universe. EuropaCorp put together financing for the movie and provided marketing funds.

At that pace, Valerian won’t be able to beat holdovers Spider-Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes. Among other holdovers, Universal and Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 jumped the $200 million mark at the domestic box office on Thursday.

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