This weekend will be a busy one for film fans. Not only do we have favorite director Christopher Nolan opening his new film Dunkirk, not only do we have a sci-fi fantasy epic in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and we have a new comedy film with Girls Trip, but it’s also time for San Diego Comic-Con, which you might recall isn’t exactly the most opportune time to release big budgeted films. Let’s get into what films I think will fill out the top five at the weekend box office.
So as mentioned, Comic-Con in San Diego is nerd heaven, and thousands of comic-book readers, movie fans, and TV watchers. So with thousands unable to attend public paying screenings, that can equal out to potentially millions of dollars lost that could have been spent on ticket sales. That was especially the case last year when this weekend saw the release of Star Trek Beyond (2016), which struggled, especially when compared to the two entries before it in the series. $59.2 million was the opening weekend numbers for that film, and arguably if it had opened some time other than Comic-Con weekend, the total might have been closer to $63-67 million, but then again there were other factors keeping it down. Still, this weekend with three new releases, Dunkirk is the top pick to top the box office, and I think it will. While the film features cast members like Harry Styles, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy, the big draw is the director: Christopher Nolan. He’s had a great history with very high grosses for his films, and I don’t think Dunkirk will be an exception to that. Add to that great reviews, currently 94% on Rotten Tomatoes with some of the best reviews of the year, and a very solid marketing campaign and you have a film that, yes, could have benefited from opening a week later or earlier so it didn’t run into the buzz-saw of Comic Con, but still war film audiences don’t always directly cross over with those in San Diego, so I think it won’t be as hurt as Star Trek Beyond was. Also I’m thinking this one will open higher than Nolan’s last film, Interstellar (2014) for two reasons: number one, advance reviews on Interstellar were mixed, whereas Dunkirk‘s are almost all positive, and two, Dunkirk is only an hour and forty-five minutes or so, which means theaters can fit in more screenings than the nearly three hour Interestellar. Interstellar open to $47.5 million, and tracking is aiming for $55.5 million opening weekend, I’m going to go in-between these two numbers and say $51 million opening weekend. In 3,600 theaters that means an average of $14,167 per theater.
War for the Planet of the Apes opened last weekend and looking back at the other two films in the reboot trilogy, an average of 50% is the weekend one to weekend two drop. Falling in line with those expectations, that means a second weekend of $28.1 million, which should be enough for second place. I’m also anticipating another holdover to top out the other two newcomers this weekend, Spider-Man: Homecoming, which I have falling 55% its third weekend for $19.8 million.
I’m taking a bit of a gamble on my fourth place bet, and that’s on Valerien and the City of a Thousand Planets. Starring Dane DeHann, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Rutger Hauer, and John Goodman, and from Luc Besson, the marketing has actually been pretty strong. Lots of ads on YouTube, which actually is almost crossing over to the over-marketing stage, but still being based on a long running series comic series, that will bring some out. Plus some pretty good reviews at 66% on Rotten Tomatoes helping out. Then it’s also going into 3,400 theaters, which will be just under the number Dunkirk is going into. Tracking has been pretty conservative, saying $18.5 million, and I’m thinking it’ll come in just above that with $19 million even. With 3,400 theaters that’s $5,588 for the per-theater average. This is another one that would have benefited from opening on a non Comic-Con weekend, maybe closer to $25 million, so let that be a lesson to the filmmakers.
A comparable film to Girls Night is Bridesmaids (2009), which became a box office surprise smash. With comedies suffering big time this summer, especially with the big studio films, some are speculating that Girls Trip will be the cure to that, but I’m not entirely sure. While it does bolster a cast like Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, and a reportedly big number of cameo performances, the film seems to be lacking a bit in marketing material, but it makes up for that with surprisingly great reviews, about 91% on Rotten Tomatoes thus far. While some say it will rival Bridesmaids‘ numbers from 2009, that played in almost 3,000 theaters and Girls Trip only opens in 2,583, and with so few comedies performing well this summer, I don’t see this one being the one that turns it around. I think it will do better than others, but we’re not talking huge raise numbers for the executives on this one. Tracking is at $20 million, and I’m coming in more conservative on this one with $16.5 million. That means a per-theater average of $6,388 in fifth place.
Okay, now let’s take a look see at how well I did predicting the numbers from last weekend. War for the Planet of the Apes did indeed land in the number one spot, but it wasn’t quite the showdown we thought it would be between that and Spider-Man: Homecoming. I had Apes earning $60 million, way above tracking numbers, and while it did beat those estimates, $51 million, it didn’t quite hit my $60 million prediction. Actual number was $56.2 million. Second place was another correct prediction for Spider-Man: Homecoming, but it’s number was $44.2 million, far below my $58.5 million number in the predictions. That was off 50% when it’s actual fall was 62%. Hmm, not quite the holdover I was anticipating. Third place went to the kids animation film Despicable Me 3, which landed at $19.3 million, just above my $18.4 million prediction, so that’s the closest I’ve come yet. My fourth and fifth place predictions were mixed up, though. I had The Big Sick coming in fourth place with $8.5 million, but it ended up with $7.5 million in fifth place. And my fifth place prediction, Baby Driver, held very strong with a 33% drop and a weekend total of $8.7 million. I had it earning $7.8 million in fifth place, so in a way I had the numbers very close, just had the wrong films paired with those numbers. I also had a prediction for a newcomer last week, Wish Upon, which hit $5.4 million, which was short of tracking numbers by a ways, $8.5 million, and below my lower number of $7 million. Not a great start. A lot going on this weekend at the box office, and with Comic-Con a lot of folks will be glued to their screens all weekend hoping for footage if they’re not there in person. It’s kind of a tricky one to predict this weekend, so we’ll see how I do.