Dunkirk beat Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets during the two films’ respective Thursday night debuts. Dunkirk is the latest directorial effort from Christopher Nolan (of The Dark Knight and Inception fame) and recreates the famous evacuation of British and Allied forces from Nazi-occupied territory during WWII. By comparison, Valerian is an adaptation of the sci-fi comic book series Valérian and Laureline by French writer/director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Lucy).

Thus far, reviews for Dunkirk have been very much positive and the film is still rated more than 90% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, after 191 reviews. Comparatively, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets reviews been praised the film for its stunning visuals, though not so much its acting or story. Already, however, Nolan’s movie has begun to pull well-ahead of Besson’s in the race at the domestic box office.

Related: Why Valerian is Unlikely to Be a Commercial Failure

As reported by The Wrap, Dunkirk raked in a total of $5.5 million during its Thursday evening box office debut and is on track for an expected $40 million opening weekend. Heading up to its release, Nolan’s World War II drama has been helped by significant social media buzz – thanks in no small part to the inclusion of One Direction pop star, Harry Styles, in a leading role.

Standing as its direct competition, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets grossed $1.7 million during its own Thursday evening box office debut, setting it on track for an $18-22 million opening weekend. To put those numbers in perspective, the like-minded sci-fi epic Jupiter Ascending earned $1 million in preview night screenings in 2015, followed by an $18 million opening weekend.

valerian blue ice poster header Dunkirk Beats Valerian in Thursday Box Office Debut

Also making its debut at the domestic box office on Thursday evening was the studio comedy Girls Tripfeaturing starring turns from the likes of Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, and Tiffany Haddish – with a $1.7 million gross. Created in much the same vein as Rough Night, the new comedy about a close-knit group of female friends is already doing a little better than Rough Night did by comparison, back in June.

It will be interesting to see which film general viewers flock to theaters to see as we head into the weekend, as Dunkirk and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets are equally ambitious in terms of thematic scope. And with Besson already hard at work on the Valerian sequels, both movies arguably deserve the same amount of time and attention from viewers that went into making them – even if Dunkirk has already taken the lead.

NEXT: Screen Rant’s Valerian Review

Source: The Wrap

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