For the first time since summer blockbuster season began in May, not a single franchise installment or well-trod adaptation opened this weekend. In fact, the two highest-grossing movies are stories that have never graced the big screen before ― a rarity during the bigger-is-better dog days.
“Dunkirk” handily won the No. 1 spot. Christopher Nolan’s stunning World War II survival drama outpaced studio expectations, earning $50.5 million in North America and $55.4 million overseas. Further confirming that Nolan is one of the few directors who can attract audiences on name alone, those are especially strong numbers for a film with an unknown lead star (newcomer Fionn Whitehead) that’s not based on an existing property. “Dunkirk” has been deemed an early Oscar contender and a victory for Warner Bros. that showcases its ability to market original, adult-driven dramas.
“Dunkirk” grossed slightly more than Nolan’s previous outing, 2014′s “Interstellar,” though of course it couldn’t match the success of “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” (One lingering mystery: Did pop sensation Harry Styles’ appearance drive added business? We’ll never know.)
The weekend’s next winner, “Girls Trip,” also performed above expectations, debuting to $30.4 million domestically. Coasting on glowing reviews that have eluded recent studio comedies like “The House,” “Baywatch” and “Snatched,” this R-rated gem is one of the few movies to premiere in the Top 2 this year that’s not based on historical events, pre-existing characters or any source material. Its stars ― Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall and Queen Latifah ― made ample media appearances last week, stoking positive word-of-mouth and setting “Girls Trip” apart from the similar “Rough Night,” which fizzled at the box office last month.
While “Dunkirk” and “Girls Trip” thrived, the other major new release, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” faltered. The sci-fi adventure based on French comic-book series “Valérian and Laureline” mustered a disappointing $17 million. Starring Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, “Valerian” was the weekend’s costliest movie. It will struggle to recoup its massive $180 million budget.
Holdovers “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “War for the Planet of the Apes” outgrossed “Valerian,” which stumbled into fifth place overall.
Rounding out the Top 10 were “Despicable Me 3,” “Baby Driver,” “The Big Sick,” “Wonder Woman” and “Wish Upon.”
“Wonder Woman” has now seized the crown as 2017′s highest-grossing summer blockbuster, a title previously held by “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.″