Dunkirk is on track to outpace early box office projections and win its opening weekend on a higher total that expected. Christopher Nolan's fast-paced, suspenseful new movie about the famous evacuation mission opened to 3,720 theaters on Friday, including the widest 70mm release in 25 years. The film has been widely praised as one of Nolan's best works with a 92 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing.
Dunkirk is also a hit with viewers, earning an A-minus CinemaScore. Its PG-13 rating certainly allows it to reach a wider audience than most war movies, especially one about World War II, but it still faced big-budget competition in newcomer Valerian and recent releases like War for the Planet of the Apes and Spider-Man: Homecoming. New box office projections are in, and Dunkirk is on its way to winning the weekend and soundly beating early estimates.
According to THR, Dunkirk followed up a Thursday win with an easy victory on Friday with $19.8 million and is projected for a $50 million three-day opening weekend. It's on track to out-perform the early projection of $30-40 million and finish with a better three-day opening than Nolan's previous movie, 2014's Interstellar ($47.5 million). Dunkirk is also projected for the biggest domestic opening weekend total for a movie about World War II since Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor grossed $59 million in 2001.
Dunkirk's success with theatergoers appears to be at the expense of Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which is on pace for a meager $16-17 million from 3,553 theaters. The primary competition for Dunkirk among new releases, Valerian earned just $6.5 million on Friday and won't even beat War for the Planet of the Apes or Spider-Man: Homecoming at its current pace, despite solid reviews of its own. Universal's R-rated comedy Girls Trip came in second place on Friday and is projected for a $28.1 million opening.
While Valerian ($180 million budget) appears to be one of the summer's biggest bombs, Dunkirk looks poised to be one of its biggest successes, with a good chance of turning a strong profit on its $150 million budget. It's hard for war movies to do well with theatergoers, but the PG-13-rated, 107-minute-long Dunkirk is not your typical war movie. Its early triumph at the box office gives it a chance to be one of the most successful movies ever made about World War II.
Most critics agree that Dunkirk is a riveting piece of suspense cinema, but others have reported the same issues that have followed Nolan's harshest critics. Viewers expecting blood and gore, deep character explorations, or a more linear timeline may be disappointed. But potential criticisms aside, there's little doubt that Dunkirk is a relentless spectacle, especially on IMAX screens, and its box office potential looks even bigger than expected.
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- Dunkirk (2017) release date: Jul 21, 2017