Weekend Box Office: 'Emoji Movie' in Close Battle With 'Dunkirk' for No. 1

The Emoji Movie Still 9 - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

Charlize Theron's action pic 'Atomic Blonde' is also opening nationwide.

A close race for top spoils is underway at the North American box office between new animated family film The Emoji Movie and Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, now in its second outing.

The Emoji Movie, from Sony Animated Pictures, earned $10.1 million Friday for a projected $27 million weekend.

From Warner Bros., Dunkirk is likewise expected to take in $27 million. Nolan's critically acclaimed World War II drama grossed $8 million Friday for an eight-day domestic gross of $82.7 million. Overseas, Dunkirk has jumped the $100 million mark.

The Emoji Movie, based on the popular symbols used in text messages, centers on Gene (T.J. Miller) who, unlike the other inhabitants of Textpolis, has multiple expressions. Determined to be normal, he and his friends embark on an adventure to locate the code that will fix him, only to find themselves in a race to save the world.

The ensemble voice cast includes James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Jake T. Austin, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara and Patrick Stewart. Emoji Movie — earning withering reviews and a B CinemaScore — cost $50 million to produce.

This weekend's other new nationwide release is Charlize Theron's action pic Atomic Blonde, from Universal specialty label Focus Features and Sierra/Affinity. The film, following an MI6 spy during the final days of the Berlin Wall, grossed $7.1 million Friday, including $1.5 million in Thursday previews, for a projected debut of $18 million.

That won't be enough to defeat Universal's femme-centric comedy Girls Trip, which is expected to earn $19.5 million in its second weekend and come in No. 3 behind Dunkirk and Emoji Movie.

David Leitch (John Wick) directed Atomic Blonde, which is based on the graphic novel The Coldest City. In addition to Theron, Atomic Blonde also stars James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones.

There is also major action on the specialty front as both Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit and Al Gore's climate change documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power open in select theaters a week ahead of their nationwide debuts.

Detroit — the first release from Annapurna Pictures, founded by Megan Ellison — is rolling out in 20 theaters in 20 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. From a script by Mark Boal, the period pic recounts the riot of 50 years ago in the titular city.

Early estimates suggest Detroit will score a solid theater average of $20,000 for the weekend. John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, John Krasinski and Anthony Mackie star.

Paramount and Participant Media are debuting An Inconvenient Sequel in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk directed the doc, which opens 11 years after An Inconvenient Truth, likewise steered by Gore, hit theaters. The doc is on course to nab a screen average of $48,000-$50,0000.

In hopes of luring younger moviegoers, Snapchat is partnering with Paramount and Participant to offer free tickets to consumers 18 and younger.

July 28, 12:30 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
July 29, 7:30 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.