A trio of new releases open this weekend as the market continues to crowd with well-reviewed films. Our final analysis and forecast:
- Christopher Nolan’s status as one of the few filmmakers able to sell a film with his name alone is a major commodity, especially with his past summer success. His fan base has continued to grow over the years thanks to a consistent output of critical and commercial mega-hits like The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar. His notable appeal to young adults could be vital to the film’s breakout potential, while older audiences will be enticed by this film’s subject matter. For those who have lamented the absence of non-franchise summer blockbusters, this is their time to show up at theaters.
- Sources tell Boxoffice that pre-sales have been very strong for both Thursday and Friday as well as the remainder of the weekend, further reflecting the anticipation among Nolan’s fans and growing interest beyond that crowd. Pre-sales trends are reportedly ahead of the likes of War for the Planet of the Apes and Interstellar.
- With more than 80 reviews counted, the film is Certified Fresh at 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (as of this writing). Its current average 9 out of 10 rating from reviewers is very rare for a tentpole release. This kind of reception could be a major drawing factor for casual audiences not already sold on the film, particularly adult crowds and military families.
- Social media buzz has been on fire for months, and has only continued to gain momentum in recent weeks. The film’s Twitter footprint has vastly outpaced that of Interstellar at the same point before release, as well as American Sniper, Gravity, Jason Bourne, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Spectre, and Star Trek Beyond.
- With plenty of talk about being an awards season player, we continue to expect the film will have a lengthy run at the box office as it aims to play strongly well beyond opening weekend.
- Social media metrics come with a few asterisks in this film’s case: Harry Styles’ presence has his young female fan base heavily engaged in conversation about the movie, while the film’s title lends to some probability of tweets unrelated to the movie itself. In general, we continue to expect some inflation of buzz by overseas (particularly the U.K.) audiences, but there’s little doubt that American crowds will be turning up in strong numbers as well.
- Although critics and Nolan himself have emphasized this is an audience-friendly “action thriller” rather than the traditional dramatic war film, perception from the average moviegoer will naturally lean toward the latter until word of mouth settles in — especially since this particular historic World War II battle isn’t quite as well known among Americans as others.
- The film opens in an already challenging market with adult males being a major component in Spider-Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes‘ back-to-back successful debuts.
- Although the film boasts a handful of well-liked names and faces, they have been largely absent from marketing (intentionally). Unlike Inception, there’s no Leonardo DiCaprio lead to help sell the film beyond the Nolan faithful. Still, that’s where the filmmaker and film itself could fill some of the gap, potentially.
- Counter-programming is the name of the game here as female crowds have another late summer comedy to plan around for a “girls’ night out” — a strategy that worked very well for Bad Moms last year.
- Reviews are strong with a current 88 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, further bolstering the potential for this to outperform the likes of Rough Night and Snatched. Twitter buzz has likewise been very positive.
- The cast should also serve as an advantage with several notable leading stars.
- It shouldn’t have a direct effect, but the year’s streak of under-performing R-rated comedies is something to consider.
- Facebook activity hasn’t been as robust as Bad Moms pre-release, but that’s not a particularly worrying sign.
- Strong pre-sales could be a result of older female crowds creating some front-loaded behavior to weekend sales. Again, though, that’s a very minor concern at this point.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
- Based on a popular French comic series, there is definitely some appeal here to existing fans and young males.
- Filmmaker Luc Besson has a solid resume of hits under his belt. His credits, in addition to a widespread marketing campaign, could aid awareness and interest.
- Social media buzz has been notably healthy across both Twitter and Facebook, although much of it appears to be inflated by overseas interest.
- Reviews are mostly solid with a 72 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
- The property and Besson himself (by name alone, anyway) aren’t particularly well known in North America compared to their significantly higher profiles in their native country of France.
- Although Dunkirk is aiming for adult males, Valerian will need to attract at least some portion of that demographic to exceed expectations. With the success — and strong reception — of Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes, and seemingly Dunkirk this weekend, we remain concerned about Valerian‘s release timing.
- Although reviews stand at “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s only after 47 reviews thus far. The 6.2 average rating is lukewarm and could be indicative of divisive reactions to the film.
- The lack of star power is another minor concern. Although that didn’t negatively affect Pacific Rim in a major way, that film opened in a less competitive market. While potentially conservative, we believe the likes of Jupiter Ascending and Ghost in the Shell serve as stronger barometers for box office performance in North America. France should be a very different story, though.
|Title||Distributor||Weekend||Domestic Total through Sunday, July 23||% Change|
|War for the Planet of the Apes||Fox||$23,600,000||$101,830,000||-58%|
|Spider-Man: Homecoming||Sony / Columbia||$22,010,000||$250,000,000||-50%|
|Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets||STX Entertainment||$17,500,000||$17,500,000||NEW|
|Despicable Me 3||Universal||$12,000,000||$210,440,000||-38%|
|Baby Driver||Sony / TriStar||$5,660,000||$83,320,000||-35%|
|The Big Sick||Lionsgate||$5,290,000||$24,210,000||-30%|
|Wonder Woman||Warner Bros.||$4,630,000||$388,550,000||-32%|
|Wish Upon||Broad Green Pictures||$2,020,000||$9,850,000||-63%|
Shawn Robbins and Alex Edghill contributed to this report.