FILM: Box Office Hustle – Dunkirk vs. Valerian

We are deep in the dog days of summer, and the sequels, remakes, and reboots keep on coming! Last week’s big opener, War for the Planet of the Apes, managed to knock off Spider-Man: Homecoming for the top spot. War brought in $56.3 million for the second highest gross in the series, but fell short of studio expectations due to the sequel/remake/reboot fatigue of this summer.

Spider-Man saw a 62% drop off from it’s opening week haul in its slide to the second spot, bringing in $44.2 million. The rest of the top 5 shook out like this (with previous week earning ranks, if available):

  1. (-) War for the Planet of the Apes: $56.3 m
  2. (1) Spider-Man Homecoming: $44.2 m
  3. (2) Despicable Me 3: $19.4 m
  4. (3) Baby Driver: $8.7 m
  5. (8) The Big Sick: $7.6 m

In a change of pace, this week’s offerings are not remakes, reboots or sequels! We have two fresh films that are due to light up the silver screens and vie to conquer the box office. A look back into a war torn past and a jump forward into a dazzling future, Dunkirk and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets square off for cinema supremacy!

Weekend Blockbuster #1: Dunkirk

Before the United States entered WWII, the Allied forces were losing ground to the Axis powers at a frightening rate. France was almost completely overrun, and the British, French, and Belgian forces were trapped. Things looked mighty bleak in Europe during the early years of the vicious battle against the Nazis.

May of 1940 is when Dunkirk finds Allied troops trapped along the coast of France and surrounded by the German army. A mere 26 miles of English Channel separates the British forces from home, but shallow waters and dangerous conditions complicated evacuation. Over a nine day stretch, the soldiers are rescued in a dangerous effort known as Operation Dynamo. Here is the trailer released by Warner Bros.:

What You Need To Know

Christopher Nolan, the master behind the Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception, is known for his visually stunning work. His artistry is again on display in Dunkirk. A significant departure with this movie is running time. At 103 minutes, Dunkirk is his second shortest film. The film does not waste time, keeps dialogue to a minimum, and keeps you breathlessly riveted.

With the way this film is built, the ensemble cast does not have a true lead character. Large names like Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, and even Harry Styles are involved in Dunkirk, but the true champion of the film in the entire Allied force. Relative unknowns stand just as tall, including Fionn Whitehead, who graces the posters for the movie. The telling of the story truly stands above the people playing the roles.

Nolan’s telling of this story may not strike a chord with American moviegoers like it would if it involved American soldiers, but the fact that it is a masterpiece of war cinematography cannot be ignored.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

This could be one of the greatest WWII movies ever. Dunkirk is an intense and emotional look back at one of the most daring and dangerous times for the Allied forces. Definitely worth going and seeing in theaters!

Weekend Blockbuster #2: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Big, spectacular sci-fi adventures have been hit or miss lately, and so have comic book adaptations, so with the mixture of the two we have Luc Besson’s latest offering, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives in the vast metropolis of Alpha. The sprawling city, home to species from a thousand planets, is threatened by dark forces, and Valerian and Laureline must root it out before it destroys Alpha and possibly the universe. Check out the trailer released by STX Entertainment:

What You Need To Know

Besson is best known for his last sci-fi extravaganza, The Fifth Element (1997). While he has done plenty of work in the last 20 years, the correlation between Valerian and Fifth Element will be made due to their similarities. The ass-kicking duo of protagonists, a dark force hanging over the universe, and the stunning visuals will remind movie goes of Besson’s earlier work, but Valerian should not be taken as an updated remake of arguably his best film.

Valerian is based off the French comics Valerian and Laureline, which were first published in 1967. Besson grew up a fan of the comics, and began working on making a film based on them after Fifth Element was released. It wasn’t until a massive crowd-sourcing campaign and his own investments came together that he could afford to create the expansive world that the movie required. With a budget of $180 million, it is the most expensive independent film ever made.

If you are expecting a movie that will blow you away with award-winning acting, deep plot lines, or life changing storytelling, then you will be sorely disappointed. This movie will give you the Besson special: action, stunning visuals, and fun.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%

This is one of those movies made to wow on the big screen with its visual effects, but the movie itself may not be enough to be worth spending full price for. Go see it during the matinee times or wait until it comes out on the small screen.

Power Rankings for July 21-23 (Domestic)

  1. Dunkirk – A battle tested champ. Despite stiff competition, this WWII feature will come out on top. BOX OFFICE CHAMP. Prediction: $50-55 M
  2. War for the Planet of the Apes – A fight for second place. The competition will be close, but the simians will eke out the #2 spot. Prediction: $22-23 M
  3. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – A visual effects attraction. Jaw-dropping effects and Luc Besson’s track record bring in decent crowds for this movie’s debut week. Prediction: $20-22 M
  4. Spider-Man Homecoming – A drop for the wall-crawler. Marvel’s latest offering is suffering reboot fatigue despite solid reviews. Prediction: $20-22 M
  5. Girls Trip – A fun girl’s night out flick. Following the success of other R-rated comedies and an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, this film could see a big opening weekend push. Prediction: $18-20 M

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