The back-to-back busy weekends continue with three big new movies arriving in theaters. While this could be a hectic weekend at the box office, I have a feeling that things won’t go too well for any of the three.
While Christopher Nolan’s latest film is being buzzed as a sure Best Picture and Best Director contender, I don’t think it will win over mainstream moviegoers. And while Luc Besson’s new CG-laden sci-fi action flick might have fared well several years ago, I suspect it will play out like ‘Pacific Rim’ – poor domestic performance but strong overseas. If one of the three movies stands a chance of turning a dollar, it will be the crude ladies’ comedy. Even then, it’s iffy. If the target demographic turns out, it will do well, but recent flop ‘Rough Night’ was very similar in theme and tone, so it could go either way.
Storming 3,720 screens, the widest release is Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk‘. I can’t speak for all countries, but in the United States, the World War II event at Dunkirk is mostly unknown. Our high school history books start telling the war with Pearl Harbor, but the war kicked off long before that in Europe. Allied forces attempted to foil the German invasion, but were pushed with their backs to the sea in Dunkirk, France. 400,000 troops were pinned down. As fish in barrel, retreating seemed impossible. Playing out like an experimental indie film with an insanely high budget, Nolan’s non-linear narrative bounces around and depicts three harrowing perspectives of the Dunkirk history: the story of the soldiers clamoring to stay alive on the beach, the story of the British civilians who took their personal boats across the channel to bring the soldiers home, and the story of the Spitfire pilots who tried to lessen the German aerial beach attacks. The intense 106-minute war film is relentless with its tension and never lets up.
With somewhere between 70 and 80% of ‘Dunkirk’ being shot on 70mm IMAX film and the other 20 to 30% being shot on 65mm film, there are several viewing options available. The most common will be the standard digital projection screens with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and either 2k or 4k quality. 35mm showings will feature the same 2.35:1 ratio, but with a 6k equivalent. Theaters capable of projecting 70mm will play wide celluloid reels with a 2.20:1 aspect ratio that’s estimated at 12k or 13k. Digital and laser IMAX screens will feature a 1.9:1 aspect ratio and either a 2k or 4K resolution. The rarest of the releases is the 70mm IMAX print with a 1.43:1 aspect ratio and an 18k equivalent. Only 25 screens are projecting ‘Dunkirk’ on 70mm IMAX celluloid, so you’ll be lucky to see it in the format that Nolan intended.
Luc Besson earned a cult following with his 1997 film ‘The Fifth Element’. 20 years later, he’s attempting to do the same with the expensive comic book adaptation ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets‘, which is hitting 3,553 screens and just might have the worst title of any movie this year. Cardboard cutouts Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne star as two futuristic special agents who must stop the universe from being taken over by a dark baddie. With trailers showing a cartoony visual style that resembles the Wachowski’s ‘Speed Racer’, I don’t know why anyone would want to see a green-screen movie when you have the realistic gloriousness of Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ playing at the same time. I highly doubt that domestic moviegoers will opt for ‘Valerian’, but I can see international audiences eating it up.
Finally, playing on 2,591 screens is ‘Girls Trip‘. The movie stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish as a female foursome who leave their families behind for a New Orleans festival. If you’ve seen the edgy trailer, then you have a taste of the non-stop crude shenanigans that they get into while away. Although this plan didn’t work out for Scarlett Johansson and the ladies of ‘Rough Night’, considering how consistent and reliable the African American moviegoing demographic is, ‘Girls Trip’ just might turn out to be a hit.