After a decade of development and several postponements, the long-awaited Stephen King adaptation “The Dark Tower” debuted with an estimated $19.5 million in North American ticket sales, narrowly edging out the two-week leader “Dunkirk.”
The modest result for “The Dark Tower,” starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, was in line with expectations heading into the weekend but well shy of initial hopes for a possible franchise-starter.
J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard are among the directors who previously tried to tackle King’s magnum opus, a seven-book series that melds sci-fi with horror and other genres.
But the long battle to make “The Dark Tower” ended with poor reviews and few fireworks. Still, the movie was made for a relatively modest amount: about $60 million, or half of what many other summer movies cost. Sony Pictures also split costs with Media Rights Capital.
“It was always an ambitions and bold undertaking but it was made at the right price,” said Adrian Smith, president of domestic distribution for Sony Pictures.
By comparison, the recent flop “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” which opened with $17 million, cost at least $180 million to make.
Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic “Dunkirk” slid to second with $17.6 million in its third week. It’s now made $133.6 million domestically. Other holdovers — “The Emoji Movie” ($12.4 million in its second week) and “Girls Trip” ($11.4 million in its third week) followed.
Another long-delayed film also made its debut. The Halle Berry thriller “Kidnap” opened with $10.2 million. The film, styled after the Liam Neeson “Taken” series, was released by the new distributor, Aviron Pictures, after it bought the North American rights from Relativity. Before entering bankruptcy, Relativity had scheduled the film’s release for 2015.
But “Kidnap” still outperformed the week’s other new wide release, the far more anticipated “Detroit.” The Kathryn Bigelow-directed docudrama is also the first release for an upstart distributor.
The first film distributed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, “Detroit” debuted with a disappointing $7.3 million after a limited release last week. As a producer, Ellison, the Oracle heiress, has been behind some of the most acclaimed films in recent years, including “Foxcatcher” and “American Hustle.”
“Detroit,” the third collaboration between Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal (“The Hurt Locker,” ”Zero Dark Thirty”), reimagines the terror-filled events around the…