Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk" Performs Well, But It's This Week's #2 That's the Real Marvel | 2 or 3 Things I Know About Film >> Film Film reviews, essays, analysis and more Film | 2 or 3 Things I Know About Film >> Film Film reviews, essays, analysis and more
Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” Performs Well, But It’s This Week’s #2 That’s the Real Marvel

JULY 21 - JULY 23, 2017

1. Dunkirk (Opening) - $50.5m

2. Girls Trip (Opening) - $30.3m

3. Spider-Man: Homecoming (3rd) - $22.0m

4. War for the Planet of the Apes (2nd) - $20.4m

5. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Opening) - $17.0m

6. Despicable Me 3 (4th) - $12.7m

7. Baby Driver (4th) - $6.0m

8. The Big Sick (5th) - $5.0M

9. Wonder Woman (8th) - $4.6m

10. Wish Upon (2nd) - $2.4m

Also opening:

  • Landline - $52.3k ($13.0k avg)


Dunkirk needs to be compared on two metrics. First, by director Christopher Nolan’s track record and second next to contemporary WWII films. For Nolan’s non-Batman movies, the $50.5m is sitting just ahead of Interstellar’s $47.5m but behind Inception’s $62.7m. The latter managed more than $100m domestically than the former.

Whereas Interstellar had debatably mixed reactions (despite fervent love from his devoted fans, see its top 40 position on IMDb’s all-time list), sci-fi films soar or flops––given their bloated budgets––so for a WWII film to be more promising is certainly a feat. For pure WWII films (since 1980), Dunkirk’s opening is only second to Pearl Habor’s $59m. Given the ecstatic reviews, Dunkirk should top $200m. It’s already crossed $100m worldwide.

Meanwhile, despite our analysis of the flop of female-orientated R-rated comedy Rough Night just a couple of weeks ago, the similarly themed Girls Trip (starring an African American cast) blows its modest $19m budget out of the window and scores an impressive $30m. Looks promising to cross $100m domestically. It certainly serves the huge gap in the market that the male-dominated Dunkirk, Apes, and Spider-Man are currently saturating.

Sidenote: more good news for women. Wonder Woman just crossed over Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to become the 2nd highest grossing film of the year so far. More on it when it crosses $400m.


Any other film making $17m on its opening weekend on an over $200m budget would be a natural ‘ugly’ contender. But Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has a secret weapon that makes its flop disappointing, but not catastrophic. STX have already made their money back with pre-sales, equity financing, and tax subsidies, so it’s difficult to take much of a loss here. Nevertheless, I’m certain their fingers were crossed to do that and have a hit. It’ll do well in France, no doubt. It is their most expensive film ever.


Instead, two third-installments we’ve previously seen in the ugly stages that dropped out of the top 10 this week deserve to be mentioned again. Transformers: The Last Knight falls out of more than half of its screens in only the 5th week and has made $127.5m so far. Age of Extinction’s underwhelming run bowed out with nearly half of that with $245.4m. The franchise had just gotten used to joining the billion dollar club but instead winds down with $547.7m worldwide so far. It may hit $600m, but not much more than that.

Cars 3 also dips out of most of its screens on its 6th week and stutters to a halt around $144m. It handily beat The Good Dinosaur’s $123m total, but it’ll struggle to reach A Bug’s Life unadjusted $162m. Perhaps Pixar’s plan to monetize their sequel potential hasn’t been worthwhile––besides in merchandising money. They can’t all be Finding Dory. More hope here for The Incredibles 2 though.