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Weekend Predictions: Take a Trip with Valerian and Laureline to Dunkirk

July 20th, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

So far this summer, box office is running about $200 million behind last year’s pace. The numbers have fallen so far that, year to date, 2017 is now behind 2016’s box office pace. This is even more depressing as last weekend, five of the top six films earned Tomatometer Scores that were over 90% positive. This week, we are continuing the amazing run with critics as two of the three wide releases are earning 90% positive reviews or better, but it doesn’t look like we will be able to improve our box office woes. This weekend last year, Star Trek Beyond opened with nearly $60 million and four other films earned more than $20 million. This weekend, Dunkirk will open in first place and it might top Star Trek Beyond, but that seems unlikely. Even getting to $50 million could be asking too much. Girls Trip should have a box office run somewhere between Rough Night and Bad Moms. ... Yes, I know that’s a lot of wiggle room, but there’s a lot of uncertainty here. Finally there’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which cost $180 million to make but is earning almost no buzz here. (It should do a lot better internationally.) We would have to have all three new releases beat expectations and have solid holdovers for 2017 to come out ahead in the year-over-year comparison.

Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan’s attempt to win an Oscar. If the reviews are any indication, he might do it. That said, the film will need to be a big hit at the box office, as Awards Season is a long way away and even finishing with close to $100 million won’t be enough to stay in the minds of Awards Season voters long enough. The buzz is much louder than most other films that have come out this summer, but a lot of that has to do with Harry Styles making his acting debut and I don’t think that’s going to translate into increased ticket sales. It should still be a hit, but in the $45 million to $50 million range and not the $60 million range. More specifically, I’m going with an opening weekend of $47 million.

While Dunkirk is an historical World War II movie and is aimed at a more mature target demographic than most Sci-fi films, I still think it will be direct competition for War for the Planet of the Apes hurting that film’s sophomore stint. A drop-off of more than 50% to $28 million or less seems likely, but I think the film’s 94% positive reviews will prevent it from collapsing too much more than that. Let’s go with $27 million over the weekend for a ten-day total of over $100 million.

Spider-Man: Homecoming should be next with about $22 million. It likely won’t reach $300 million at this pace, not without a push from the studio.

Girls Trip is an R-rated comedy aimed at African-American women. There are almost no other major releases in that genre with that target audience, so it is really difficult to figure out the film’s box office potential. The film’s reviews are hovering around 90% positive, so that could mean it will be a breakout hit. However, similar R-rated comedies to come out this year have struggled, so that could mean the target audience is too small to create a hit. Perhaps it will fight for second place with $25 million or more, but it could also struggle to hit $20 million. The lower end is slightly more likely than the higher end, so look for $21 million over the weekend.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the final wide release of the week. It’s the latest from Luc Besson, who has made some amazing movies and had more than a few box office hits. For example, only three years ago, he made Lucy, which earned more than $100 million domestically and over $450 million worldwide. This film’s reviews are on par with Lucy’s reviews, but its box office potential is nowhere near as strong. There’s a chance it won’t make as much in total as Lucy opened with. I’m not that pessimistic, but I also don’t think it will earn much more than $50 million domestically, starting with a $19 million debut this weekend. Fortunately, it should be a much bigger hit in France and throughout most of Europe.

- Dunkirk Comparisons
- Girls Trip Comparisons
- Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Comparisons

Filed under: Weekend Preview, War for the Planet of the Apes, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Dunkirk, Rough Night, Girls Trip, Luc Besson, Christopher Nolan, Harry Styles