‘Dunkirk’ Holds Top Spot Against Sony’s Panned ‘Emoji’ Movie

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(Bloomberg) -- “Dunkirk,” the Warner Bros.’ World War II epic, led the U.S. box office for a second weekend after Sony Corp.’s “The Emoji Movie” was almost universally panned by critics.

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who created the “Dark Knight” series, “Dunkirk” collected $28.1 million from theaters in the U.S. and Canada, ComScore Inc. estimated in an email Sunday. “The Emoji Movie” placed second with $25.7 million and the other new release of the weekend, “Atomic Blonde,” placed fourth with a lower-than-expected $18.6 million.

The second weekend win is a boost for Time Warner Inc.’s film division, which is basking in rave reviews and Oscar buzz for “Dunkirk.” The studio’s sales this year are up 9 percent, buoyed by the summer superhero feature “Wonder Woman.” Later this year, Warner Bros. is releasing a highly anticipated sequel to “Blade Runner” and a new DC Comics movie.

“This is an exceptional hold for a second week,” Jeff Goldstein, head of domestic distribution at Warner Bros, said in an interview.

“Dunkirk” fell 44 percent from its debut last weekend, and raised an estimated total of $102.8 million through Sunday, according to Warner Bros. Typically film sales drop by 60 percent or more in the second weekend. About a quarter of the domestic ticket sales were from Imax Corp. screenings.

“The Emoji Movie” explores a hidden world inside smartphones. Set in the city of Textopolis, the film features the emoji Gene, who’s trying to fit in with others that just have one expression. Comedian T.J. Miller provides the voice of Gene. Anna Faris and James Corden are among the other well-known voices in the movie.

The film cost $50 million to make, not including marketing costs, and was forecast to generate $22 million on its debut by researcher Box Office Mojo.

Critics hated it, with just 8 percent of reviews being positive, according to aggregator RottenTomatoes.com. None of the movie’s initial 22 reviews were positive on July 27 and analysts at BoxOfficePro.com said they lowered their estimates to $26.9 million from $30 million, predicting it would come up short against “Dunkirk,” which they said would top the box office with $28.5 million.

“Though ‘Emoji’ was No. 1 on Friday, ‘Dunkirk’ by virtue of its stellar reviews enjoyed a spectacular uptick on Saturday while ‘Emoji’ saw its fortunes fall almost simultaneously,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore Inc. “Reviews and social media sentiment have an impact like never before and while they can be your best friend, they also have the power to bring down a movie very quickly.”

The animated film was able to generate respectable ticket sales mainly because of a dearth of family movies, he said.

The other new release of the weekend was the action feature “Atomic Blonde,” from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures label Focus Features.

Charlize Theron stars as the heroine as top British spy Lorraine Broughton, who is sent alone to Berlin to take down a ruthless espionage ring during the Cold War. James McAvoy portrays Berlin station chief David Percival. The movie cost $30 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo. Hollywood Stock Exchange had pegged the debut at $22.3 million.
Critics liked it, with 74 percent giving positive reviews.

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