“The Dark Tower” Will Rise Above the Rest at Box Office, But Not By Much

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The Dark Tower (Sony)

$25.2 million

Dunkirk (Warner Bros.)

 $15 million

The Emoji Movie (Sony)

$14 million

Girls Trip (Universal)

$13 million

Detroit (Annapurna)

$12 million

After last week’s dismal showing for Sony Pictures’ The Emoji Movie — opening in second place behind the second weekend of Warner Bros.’ Dunkirk — the studio gets a second chance to end the summer on a not-entirely-disastrous note with the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, which at one point, was planned to be the first film in a franchise based on Stephen King’s series of novels.

Directed by Danish filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) for a reported budget of $66 million, the movie stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey as King’s representation of good and evil, and Sony is targeting fans of both actors as well as fans of the books, though it might want to stick with the former.

The knives began coming out for The Dark Tower well before this week, when the critics finally had a chance to see the movie on Wednesday night (never a good sign). Sony seemed to be in spin control mode by not junketing the movie until a couple days ago, although both Elba and McConaughey have been doing the talk show circuit.

King’s books have a pretty solid fanbase but they’ve been burned quite a few times before, and not hearing or seeing anything exciting might keep them waiting the month until Warner Bros’ IT, which seems to have much more buzz at the moment.

Early reviews have been horrid so far — 22% on RottenTomatoes — almost as bad as last week’s The Emoji Movie, but there could be a curiosity factor that might get fans of the books and others into theaters, just to see if it’s really as bad as the critics say. Non-critics at the New York screening seemed to enjoy it, especially Elba as the Gunslinger.

The Dark Tower should still end up #1 — opening with less than $15 million would probably result in some firings — but it’s more likely to end up in the same range as The Emoji Movie last week, maybe a little higher than $25 million, but not by much. With lots of cooler-than-usual movies scheduled for the rest of August, expect it to go away pretty quickly and wind up well below $80 million in North America.

Opening Weekend Current Gross Total Facebook Likes Twitter Activity (Past Week) 
The Dark Tower N/A N/A 318,594 20,621
Dunkirk $50.5m $113m 574,542 470,466
The Emoji Movie $24.5m $35.6m 125,365 28,926
Girls Trip $31.2m $72.6m 238,950 83,316
Detroit N/A $.5m 106,171 12,879

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk shouldn’t have much problem taking second place with around $15 million, as it continues to do well, posting an even smaller drop than last week despite direct competition for older males with The Dark Tower.

Sony Pictures Animation’s The Emoji Movie will end up in third place, probably dropping 42% to $14 million, with no real word-of-mouth bump. That “B” CinemaScore last week really hurts. On the other hand, Malcolm D. Lee’s latest hit comedy Girls Trip should settle nicely into fourth place with another small drop, and its $13 million should help push the movie past the $85 million mark.


Last week, Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit opened in select cities before its wide release, scoring solid critical reviews that have been touted heavily in the movie’s advertising. It’s Bigelow’s first movie in five years and her first since the Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty, but this may be an even tougher sell, being based on the 1967 Detroit riots and the little-known police murders that took place at the Algiers Hotel. It might not be a piece of history that holds much interest to younger audiences or even the 20-to-30 something Americans that might have taken an interest in Bigelow after her Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker.

The movie’s going to be the first real test as a dramatic actor for John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), being only his second high-profile movie since joining that franchise. The first was the Emma Watson thriller The Circle, and the less said about that one, the better. Boyega is joined by a great young cast that includes Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton), Jacob Latimore, Will Poulter (We’re the Millers), Hannah Murray (Game of Thrones) and Algee Smith, but it’s really the story and Bigelow that Annapurna hopes will draw in a presumably older crowd.

Detroit could get a stronger push going into the weekend that might help it surpass Girls Night, but without any real star other than Boyega to sell the movie (coupled with the fact that it’s looking more to educate audiences rather than entertain them), it will probably have to settle for fifth place with around $10 to 12 million tops.

Aviron Pictures

Then there’s the Halle Berry thriller Kidnap, a movie produced by Relativity Media and filmed in late 2014 before getting tied up in that studio’s bankruptcy. It was picked up by David Dinerstein’s fledgling Aviron Pictures, which has absolutely zero track record in distribution. The company will also distribute the now-filming sequel to The Strangers, as well as the comedy Drunk Parents.

Berry’s last non-X-Men movie was the similarly high-concept thriller The Call, which was released for Sony’s TriStar all the way back in 2013. That genre film fared well with a $17 million opening and nearly $51.8 million domestic gross. Clearly, Berry’s fans like seeing her in straightforward thrillers, but that was also four years ago.

Being a new distributor, it’s up for debate whether Aviron can make muc  of an impact with its first release despite the easy sell of the premise. Earlier this summer, Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios managed to have a nice-sized hit with the underwater thriller 47 Meters Down. It grossed $42.7 million on a budget of $5 million, and one might not consider Mandy Moore as big a draw as Oscar winner Halle Berry.

On the other hand, Aviron seems to have upped its ad buys in the past week, which should improve awareness among those looking for an alternative to the guy-targeted The Dark Tower and the serious drama of Detroit.

Opening in 2,200 theaters — less than Detroit — one can expect Kidnap to end up at the bottom half of the Top 10 with around $5 million to $6 million. It’s unlikely to recoup its reported $21 million budget in North America.

Atomic BlondeSpider-Man: HomecomingWar of the Planet of the Apes and Despicable Me 3 should all maintain a presence in the Top 10.

Rotten Tomatoes IMDb Metacritic
Critics Users Stars  
The Dark Tower 22 N/A  N/A  34
Dunkirk 93 82  8.5  94
The Emoji Movie 6 44 1.5 9
Girls Trip 87  88  7.1 72
Detroit 93 N/A 7.1 80

Of note in limited release is the Weinstein Company’s Wind River, which marks the directorial debut of Oscar-nominated writer Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water). Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen take a break from their Avengers duties to star in this crime-thriller, which takes place on a Native American reservation. The movie had decent reviews out of Sundance and equally solid reviews since playing for regional critics, but it’s not a slam-dunk crowdpleaser like Sheridan’s previous films, though the Weinsteins do plan to expand its release over the next few weeks.

Also, Fox Searchlight will release Step, which is just the third-ever documentary it has ever released. Picked up at Sundance, the film tells the story of the exclusive girls school in Baltimore that formed a competitive step team, following them during their senior year on the road to the finals. It’s a real crowdpleaser that hopes to spark some buzz in urban markets.

A third film from Sundance is short film director Kogonada’s feature debut Columbus (IFC Films), a well-reviewed contemplative art film starring John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson (Split). The New York arthouse crowd can also check out Jérôme Reybaud’s 4 Days in France (Cinema Guild), which premiered at Venice last year. Also opening in select cities is  Ian MacAllister-McDonald’s debut Some Freaks (Good Deed Entertainment), a quirky coming-of-age movie starring Thomas Mann and Lily Mae Harrington.

On the VOD side of things, there’s IFC Midnight’s grindhouse comedy 68 Kill, Scott Adkins’ action flick Savage Dog (XLrator Media), and the touching doc It’s Not Yet Dark (FilmRise).

Look for a box office update on Saturday and our full Box Office Report on Monday to see how these movies fared over the weekend.

(Sources: boxofficemojo.com, rottentomatoes.com, imdb.com, metacritic.com. Figures represent numbers at time of writing, and may have changed. Tracking Board does not report Rotten Tomatoes user ratings for movies that have not yet seen wide release.)

  | East Coast Editor
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Still quiet here.sas

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