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Weekend Box Office: Luc Besson’s The Fifth Place

Photo: STX Entertainment

Luc Besson’s dumb, fun, indulgent, miscast sci-fi adventure Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets was never going to beat Dunkirk, but it’s a shame to see this extremely expensive folly—a spiritual successor of sorts to Besson’s earlier The Fifth Element—bomb so badly. Of course, that’s always the risk when a movie’s target audience seems to be the person making it. Earning a mere $17 million against an estimated $210 million budget, Valerian crashed into fifth place on its opening weekend.

Speaking of bombs, albeit more literally: Opening with an estimated $50.5 million, Christopher Nolan’s World War II set-piece-a-thon Dunkirk became the first non-franchise film to top the box office this summer. Nearly a quarter of that came from the large-format production’s heavily promoted IMAX screenings, with an audience that skewed older. All of this more or less lines up with expectations; what came as more of a surprise was the success of the low-budget-by-Hollywood-standards comedy Girls’ Trip, which nearly matched Dunkirk’s per theater averages on a smaller number of screens, landing in second place with an estimated $30.4 million.


And now comes the part of this weekend’s report that should worry Hollywood box office prognosticators of both the professional and armchair varieties. The cape-and-tentpole franchise model’s dependence on exhausting, super-saturated, sycophantic hype is beginning to screw itself over, as this month has seen two big releases plummet abruptly . By normal logic, a huge No. 1 opener like War For The Planet Of The Apes should still be near the top on its second weekend, but the film lost almost two-thirds of its audience, slipping to fourth place with $20.4 million. That’s just behind Spider-Man: Homecoming, which experienced a nearly identical drop; it landed in third place with $22 million just two weeks after the sort of massive opening weekend that used to spell long-term box-office domination.

The rest of the weekend’s Top 10 was filled out with Despicable Me 3 (No. 6, $12.7 million), Baby Driver (No. 7, $6 million), The Big Sick (No. 8, $5 million), Wonder Woman (No. 9, $4.6 million), and Wish Upon (No. 10, $2.5 million). The indie and limited release field didn’t see much in the way of huge breakout hits, though Landline, which reunited Jenny Slate with director Gillian Robespierre (Obvious Child), averaged $13,084 per theater across four screens. This put it second in the weekend averages, just behind Dunkirk.

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