The string of the main motion pictures having successful opening weekends at the box office continues unabated this summer. Only two weeks after the superhero flick “Spider-Man: Homecoming” made an impression, the next big blockbuster to clean house skews to the more realistic and also historical, with the Warner Brothers war movie “Dunkirk.” Directed by Christopher Nolan of the “Dark Knight” Batman trilogy, through his Syncopy Inc. production studio, the World War II-set film stars a plethora of British actors playing soldiers trapped in the French city of Dunkirk and the people who gathered to bring them home.

This stirring story of deliverance wowed cinema audiences atypical of war movies, earning a remarkable opening weekend in North America and worldwide.

Perfect combination

Initial projection by analysts regarding what “Dunkirk” might earn upon its US premiere was somewhere around $40 million. The actual event, however, exceeded these estimates by setting the first North American weekend box office take at $50.5 million. Added to that, the total earnings of “Dunkirk” elsewhere in the world – its international opening being in London’s Leicester Square – scooped up $105.9 million. All this is set against the reported production costs of under $100 million, making the Warner-Syncopy war film win big in a 2.55x weekend multiplier.

Reasons for the strong performance of “Dunkirk,” despite being of a genre that has not been as popular as it used to be in the 20th Century, can be attributed to several factors.

One is the juggernaut marketing capabilities of Warner Brothers to sell the film, which is fairly impressive given how different it is from their usual offerings in the vein of “Batman” or “Harry Potter.” Another factor is the prominence of some of its cast members; while a solid majority had been minor actors, “Dunkirk” did have Tom Hardy and ex-One Direction member Harry Styles, who blew both critics and his boy-band fans for how well he could act all along.

Positive word of mouth

Finally, one important reason that “Dunkirk” became so big in its first few days was most likely due to the large number of viewers who went into theaters after reading the plethora of very positive advance reviews for the movie, some of which praised Harry Styles's acting. Critics have started hailing it as Christopher Nolan’s best directorial effort, and others are now lining it up with some of the greatest war movies ever.

Part perhaps of its box office charm was Nolan’s decision to shoot the film on high-resolution 70mm film, perfect for viewing in wide-screen theaters. According to comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian, the large scope of the movie’s vista was an invitation for theater viewing that few could resist, saying, "'Dunkirk' became a must see a cinematic event with its epic presentations."

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