Box Office: Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk' Marches to $5.5M Thursday

Both Luc Besson's sci-fi spic 'Valerian' and comedy 'Girls Trip' took in $1.7 million in previews Thursday.

Christopher Nolan's war drama Dunkirk marched to a strong $5.5 million Thursday night after starting previews at 6 p.m., while both Luc Besson's Valerian and Universal's comedy Girls Trip kicked off the weekend with $1.7 million in previews.

Nolan’s most recent film, Interstellar, took in $3.5 million in previews in Nov. 2014 to go on to earn $47.5 million in its domestic debut. (The space epic eventually earned $675.1 million worldwide.) Warner Bros., which is releasing Nolan's World War II epic, is projecting a domestic debut in the $35 million-$40 million range. Most box-office observers believe Dunkirk will come in on the higher end.

Dunkirk follows one of the war's most famous battles in which British soldiers were surrounded by the German army during a fierce battle in WWII. Based on real events, the battle left 400,000 mostly British soldiers stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk, in northern France, desperate for a way to make it across the 26 miles of the English Channel to home.

The film, shot on film and mostly with IMAX cameras, stars Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles. 

Another big budget project, Besson's Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets, is heading towards a more disappointing start in its debut. The sci-fi film, with a net production budget of $180 million, may have trouble hitting $20 million in its debut.

From Besson's EuropaCorp and U.S. distributor STXfilms, the film stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevinge as a duo who must travel through space and time to save the universe. Besson's EuropaCorp put together financing for the movie and provided marketing funds.

Finally, Universal is releasing its femme-centric comedy Girls Trip this weekend, which is expected to earn around $20 million in its domestic debut. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee, who also produced alongside Will Packer, Girls Trip stars Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah as lifelong friends who go to New Orleans for a wild weekend of fun. 

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