Box Office Prediction: Valerian vs. Dunkirk

Welcome to the Screen Rant Box Office Prediction. Every week we put together an informal list of box office picks for the upcoming weekend to offer readers a rough estimate of how new releases (and returning holdovers) will perform in theaters.

For a recap of last week's box office totals, read our box office wrap-up from War for the Planet of the Apesopening weekend, and scroll to the bottom of this post to see how our picks matched up.

Full disclosure: Box office predictions are not an exact science. We acknowledge our picks may not always be correct. For the sake of offering a jumping off point for discussion, here are our picks for the weekend of July 21 - 23, 2017.

This weekend, Dunkirk opens in 3,720 theaters, Girls Trip debuts in 2,591 locations, and Valerian plays in 3,553 theaters.

#1 - Dunkirk

Coming in first this week should be Christopher Nolan's World War II thriller Dunkirk (read our review). The filmmaker is one of the few directors currently working who can sell a new movie with his name alone. The Dark Knight trilogy represent some of the biggest hits of Nolan's career (and of all-time), but his original productions draw in audiences as well. Back in 2010, Inception posted a strong $292.5 million domestically, and most recently, Interstellar proved to be successful with $188 million in the States. In essence, Nolan has become a brand or franchise, earning a large following. Even though Dunkirk is a fact-based drama with few bankable names in the cast, it already has a built-in fan base because of the man behind the camera.

As such, Dunkirk should prove to be another success for Nolan. The reviews for the film have been quite enthusiastic, with many pundits praising Nolan's mastery of his craft as he told a highly-tense and engrossing story. Some believe it represents the greatest achievement of his career, so many will be curious to see what all the buzz is about and determine for themselves if it lives up to the hype. Early tracking indicates an opening weekend of $55.5 million, which would be higher than Interstellar's debut in 2014. The summer box office bounced back in July, and the hot streak is going to continue.

#2 - Girls Trip

Coming in second should be Girls Trip, a new comedy about a group of four lifelong friends who reunite for a time of fun in New Orleans. Comedies have had rough sledding this year, with the likes of Baywatch, Snatched, and the similarly-minded Rough Night all failing to leave much of an impression with viewers. However, Girls Trip looks like it could be able to break the trend. While none of the main stars are box office locks, they all have a number of modest hits under their belts, giving the movie a sense of recognizability due to the names in the ensemble. More importantly, Girls Trip has earned positive reviews, with critics calling it an entertaining ride worth taking. That reaction might be enough to give the film a boost in appeal, particularly as a counter-programming option for those looking for a "girls night out" movie night. Estimates have it pegged for $27.5 million in its first three days.

#3 - War for the Planet of the Apes

Look for last week's champ, War for the Planet of the Apes (read our review), to slide to third in its second weekend. Though the acclaimed threequel won its first frame, the $56.2 million figure was below what predecessor Dawn of the Planet of the Apes managed, indicating that interest is not as high as before. Furthermore, Apes is set to get some stiff competition from Dunkirk, which could be targeting a similar demographic. Both titles are PG-13, but they're definitely skewed more for the older crowd than general widespread appeal for four quadrants. Due to the positive word-of-mouth, Apes won't fall off a cliff, but it's certainly taking a bit of a hit.

Andy Serkis as Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes

#4 - Spider-Man: Homecoming

Our pick for fourth is Spider-Man: Homecoming (read our review), which came in second last weekend with $44.2 million. The latest installment in the MCU continues to do well commercially amidst tough competition due to its positive reactions. It should be able to hang around the top of the charts for another week now that it should steady following a 62.2 percent drop in its second weekend.

#5 - Valerian

Rounding out the top five should be Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the newest sci-fi offering from director Luc Besson. The filmmaker has earned a nice fan base over the years thanks to fan-favorite works such as The Professional and The Fifth Element. Though his box office track record is up and down, he has proven he can sell a sci-fi/fantasy premise to a mass audience with Lucy, which made $126.6 million in 2014. The Valerian marketing campaign has played up his involvement to appeal to viewers, but it may not have the effect the studio was hoping for. Valerian is projected to make $17.5 million in its first three days.

There are a few factors that support this estimate. For starters, the source material comic book is not on the level of recognizability like Marvel and DC, meaning it lacks the familiarity of so many similar titles. Additionally, the reviews have been quite mixed, with some saying it should be a contender for the Razzies, while others are calling it one of the best movies of the summer. That kind of word-of-mouth may not be enough to make it stand out from the crowd, especially since the likes of Spider-Man, Apes, and Dunkirk are all critics' darlings. The unique visuals and 3D experience could bring in some viewers curious to see what the spectacle looks like on a big screen, though that won't be enough to push it to the top.

Last Week's Recap

Our Picks:

  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • Despicable Me 3
  • The Big Sick
  • Baby Driver


  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • Despicable Me 3
  • Baby Driver
  • The Big Sick

Next Week: Valerian, Dunkirk, and more!

Sources: Box Office Mojo (Release Schedule), Box Office (Opening Weekend Projections)

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