Dunkirk still afloat at top of the UK box office

The winner: Dunkirk

Following a very gentle 18% fall in its second weekend of UK play, Dunkirk now drops a heftier 44% for the third session, pretty much in line with other films on release. However, third weekend takings of £4.62m still count as a strong performance, by any measure, as does a 17-day cumulative total of £38.2m. Dunkirk will imminently overtake both Despicable Me 3 (£39.3m) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (£41.0m) to become the second biggest hit of 2017 so far in UK cinemas, after Beauty and the Beast (£72.1m).

Dunkirk took more at the box office over the weekend than any film in its third session this year, apart from Beauty and the Beast. It also did better than the third frame of Christopher Nolan’s previous blockbuster hits such as The Dark Knight Rises (£4.29m in its third frame), Inception (£3.23m) and The Dark Knight (£4.09m). Nolan’s biggest box office hit remains The Dark Knight Rises with £56.3m – a target that looks achievable for Dunkirk. These comparisons are not adjusted for inflation.

The runner-up: The Emoji Movie

With a MetaCritic score of 12/100 and a Rotten Tomatoes fresh rating of 6%, critics are agreed that The Emoji Movie is the worst family film of 2017. Evidently not all audiences have been dissuaded from giving it a chance, however, given a UK debut of £1.78m, and £2.70m including previews. Those numbers compare favorably with an opening of £1.27m and £2.50m including previews for Captain Underpants the week before – a film that enjoys a 69/100 Metascore and an encouraging 86% fresh rating.

The big risk: Luc Besson’s Valerian

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets always looked like the riskiest big-budget proposition of the summer. Given unfamiliar source material (French comic-book series Valérian and Laureline) and weak star power, Luc Besson’s film always relied on a very strong creative execution that would entice audiences looking for something quirky, fresh and different. But as the release date approached, many in the industry were anticipating a box office disaster.

Commercial expectations were so pessimistic that Lionsgate might consider the achieved outcome for Valerian in the UK – a debut of £1.21m and £1.86m including previews – as mild relief. The numbers are in line with the Wachowskis’ sci-fi misfire Jupiter Ascending (debut of £1.35m), and not so far behind manga adaptation Ghost in the Shell (debut of £1.95m and £2.30m including previews) from earlier this year.

Having said that, the budget for Valerian is reported at $180m, likely making this film a costly acquisition for Lionsgate in the UK. Only the sweetest ancillary-rights deals could avert red ink spilling across the balance sheet.

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