“Dunkirk” Storms the Beach to Score a 2nd Week Boxoffice Victory Over a Meh “Emoji Movie”. Now Can “The Dark Tower” Extend Sony’s Boxoffice Resurgence”? This Week at the Boxoffice.

By Jim Amos | July 30, 2017 6:12 pm PDT
Kidnap, The Dark Tower, Detroit movie posters

The biggest story of the weekend was that Christopher Nolan’s WWII epic, “Dunkirk”, dropped a respectable 44% and thereby held off the charge of dancing clown faced emojis to win its second weekend and cross the USD $100 million domestic plateau. The movie also continues to rack up change overseas with another USD $45 million from its international markets to bring the cume there to USD $130 million and a worldwide overall total of USD $235 million so far. As for these shores, Nolan’s thriller topped the charts with USD $28.1 million, edging Sony’s “The Emoji Movie”, which came in a bit under expectations with USD $25.6 million.

Sony’s animated movie’s B Cinemascore doesn’t bode well for subsequent week holdovers and it was blistered on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 8 but Sony’s marketing department was somehow able to convince 9 year olds that, no, children, Rotten Tomatoes has nothing to do with movies but rather it’s actually a gardening site. On a side note, an industry publication quoted a studio executive (not from Sony) as complaining about RT publishing a score for “The Emoji Movie” in the middle of last week while only a handful of reviews were in.

In an effort to point out the obvious I would submit that if, as a studio, you aren’t going to provide your film to critical publication in advance I don’t think you should be complaining that anything is “unfair” when those reviews start trickling in and they’re THIS BAD. Whether there are 5 reviews or 50, no one was going to confuse “The Emoji Movie” with “Battleship Potemkin”. Readers of this space know I love to publish the funniest review quote whenever a movie is truly this atrocious and today’s four star critic is Johnny Oleksinki from the New York Post who summed up “The Emjoi Movie” by simply stating, “Hear that? It’s the end of the world”.

The other wide release title of the weekend, Charlize Theron’s “Atomic Blonde”, also came it at the low end of expectations with a head-scratching USD $18.5 million. Whether it was the art-house feel of much of the film or action movie fatigue or whatever, moviegoers gave the movie a just-ok B Cinemascore, certainly not high enough to ensure a lengthy run at the boxoffice. International prospects look brighter however, though having said that the film could only muster a 4th place finish in Russia this weekend. Overall the film grossed slightly over USD $6million in a few overseas markets. “Atomic Blonde” opens Australia and New Zealand this week, the U.K. debuts August 11th and then much of Europe and South America come on board later in August and September.

In other items of note…

  • Perhaps a bit lost in the accolades for the “Dunkirk” holdover was the staying power of “Girls Trip” which fell a mere 35%. Made for a song at a reported USD $19 million, Universal has a real money-maker on its hands as it sits at a cume of USD $65 million and has an outside shot at USD $100 million;
  • The summer blackout period in China has meant that “Dunkirk” is yet to open there but it will do so on September 1st and boxoffice prospects look fairly strong. The film has opened well in other Asian territories;
  • The upcoming McGregor/Mayweather fight will be shown live by Fathom in selected movie theatres in the States on August 26th. The $40 ticket price currently being charged by both AMC and Cinemark is one of the highest, if not the highest, ticket price ever charged for an in-theatre event;
  • Speaking of Event Cinema, Dutch violinist and conductor Andre Rieu set yet another record as his most recent event pulled in an astounding £1.44m for his annual Maastricht concert, breaking his own Maastricht concert mark;
  • Got $4.6 million hanging around? That’s all it would take to get “Wonder Woman” over the USD $400 million domestic mark. With that you’ll also win dinner with star Gal Gadot. OK, I made that last part up.
  • If you missed it, Cosmopolitan Magazine (stop snickering) listed the coolest movie theatre in every state in the U.S. It’s a fun read;
  • New ComiCon trailers that dropped online this week include “Ready Player One”, “Thor: Ragnarok”, “Justice League”, “LEGO Ninjago”, “Kingsman: Golden Circle” and “Pacific Rim: Uprising”;
  • “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” continued its international boxoffice plundering, bringing its overseas total to USD $605 million while “Despicable Me 3” currently sits at USD $590 in foreign markets.

Now to quote the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel, June Foray, who died this week at the tender age of 99, “And now here’s something we hope you’ll really like!”…

“The Dark Tower” (Sony)—The good folks in Culver City hope to extend their three game winning streak (“Spider-man: Homecoming”, “Baby Driver” and eh, “The Emoji Movie” will ultimately make money) with this cinematic adaptation of the Stephen King serial starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. Bringing screenwriter Akiva Goldsmith along for the journey is always a good idea and there’s been buzz about “The Dark Tower” for the past year.

But something happened on the way to the (AMC) Forum. Social media buzz has ebbed recently and exhibitor screening reactions were just fair. In addition, moviegoers may be experiencing difficulty in understanding the marketing message. To prove their point I mention that its Wikipedia page describes the film as ”an American science fantasy western action horror film”. Perhaps it would have been easier to simply list what genres it was not.

The Verdict: Rewind to the beginning of the year and most industry pundits would have had this at an opening weekend of USD $35-40 million but there’s very little chance of achieving that lofty goal now. Let’s say USD $24 million. But the good news for Sony is if the aforementioned “Baby Driver” continues to hang in there this weekend there’s a slim chance that the studio will have 4 movies in the Top 10 next weekend and when was the last time that happened for them?

“Detroit” (Annapurna)—Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal are one of the finest filmmaking tandems in American cinema today (“The Hurt Locker”, “Zero Dark Thirty”) and their new film tells the story of the famous Detroit 12th Street riot of 1967 and the deadly police raid at the Algiers Motel. The stellar cast includes John Boyega (“Star Wars Episode VII”) and Anthony Mackie (“The Hurt Locker”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”). The film debuted this past weekend in 20 locations (10 cities) to a per location average of USD $18,200.

The Verdict: Initial critical reactions are excellent (94 Rotten Tomatoes score) and the film is especially topical in light of recent political speeches here in the U.S. The film is an important, take-no-prisoners glimpse into a somewhat forgotten event in American history and stands a chance at riding this mid-summer wave of serious, adult fare. Heavily centered around both coasts as well as urban areas,
“Detroit” should hit double digits. USD $12 million.

“Kidnap” (Aviron)—Newcomers Aviron release their first film, which is Halle Berry’s return to a big screen starring vehicle for the first time since 2013’s “The Call” debuted with USD $17 million. It seems difficult to believe but the only other time Ms. Berry has been seen on screen since then was as part of an ensemble in 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past”.

The Verdict: This is typical fare for a Halle Berry actioner (mom goes after kidnapped son) and we will see if, after four years away from the big screen, she still does have an audience. USD $6 million.


“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” (Paramount)—After a strong per location average this weekend in four locations of USD $32,500 PLA (no doubt helped by the former VP doing Q & A at several showings), Paramount expands “An Inconvenient Sequel” this coming weekend. I always hate to use the use the phrase “important movie” but this film should be required viewing for climate change advocates and deniers alike (probably more so the latter group). Yes, the movie can be disparaged for not focusing on ALL causes of global warming (especially factory farming) but the Vice-President’s commitment to saving the planet in these tumultuous times is indisputable.

“Step” (Fox Searchlight)—Documentary about a Baltimore leadership school’s step dance team.

“Wind River” (Weinstein)– Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson find the body of a dead girl in the wilderness in this moody thriller. RT score currently sits at an impressive 87.

“Jeb Harry Met Sejal” (Red Chilles)—The second most anticipated Bollywood movie of the year, at least according to my go-to Indian film website, is a rom/com starring Hindi film’s most successful actor. Shah Rukh Khan, and Anushka Sharma. Your Fun Fact to Know and Tell Your Neighbors at This Weekend’s BBQ is, despite its title, it is not a remake of “When Harry Met Sally”.

On the Event Cinema front, this week US Moviegoers can see “Dixie Chicks Live” at an encore of “Newsies” while those in the U.K. and Ireland have “Chris Brown: Welcome to My Life” and the opera, “La Clemenza Di Toto”.

Jim Amos
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