Sony’s long-awaited ‘Dark Tower’ may unseat ‘Dunkirk’ with $25-million box-office premiere

Idris Elba stars as the Gunslinger opposite Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black in “The Dark Tower.”

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The long-awaited Stephen King adaptation “The Dark Tower,” from Sony Pictures and Media Rights Capital, will kick off what is widely expected to be a slow August this weekend as the movie business enters the home stretch of a rough summer.

Ticket sales since the first weekend of May are down 8% in the United States and Canada compared with the same period a year earlier, totaling $3 billion, according to ComScore. That’s despite the success of recent movies including Warner Bros.’ “Dunkirk” and Universal Pictures’ “Girls Trip,” which haven’t made up for such misfires as “The Mummy” and “Baywatch.”

“Dark Tower” is expected to replace “Dunkirk” at the top of the box-office charts with $20 million to $25 million in domestic sales Friday through Sunday, according to analysts. The studio is going with a conservative $19-million projection. The acclaimed Christopher Nolan World War II epic, which has spent two weekends in that position and racked up $101 million in domestic grosses, should take in roughly $15 million. Meanwhile, Annapurna Pictures’ “Detroit” and Halle Berry’s long-delayed “Kidnap” will compete for audiences’ attention.

King of darkness

It’s fitting that a movie based on an eight-part Stephen King fantasy series would endure a long and twisted quest before hitting theaters. The companies behind it will soon find out if it was worth the wait.

The new movie, co-financed by Media Rights Capital, stars Idris Elba as nomadic gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as his nemesis the Man in Black. Sony says “The Dark Tower,” which features two major stars and digital effects, cost $60 million to make after factoring in production incentives. The film, which clocks in at a relatively brisk 95-minute run time, saved money by filming mostly in South Africa.

King, not always fond of adaptations of his work, is credited as a producer on “The Dark Tower.” It was directed by Danish filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel, best known for the 2012 historical drama “A Royal Affair.”

The big-screen fate of the “Dark Tower” series has been a subject of much speculation for at least a decade. J.J. Abrams originally wanted to adapt the series but later dropped the idea. Universal Pictures then planned an epic “Lord of the Rings”-style trilogy and a television series with filmmaker Ron Howard but balked at the financial risks.

King’s books have spawned multiple film and television adaptations, including classics such as “The Shining,” “Misery” and “Carrie.” But there have also been some notorious flops, including the widely panned “Dreamcatcher.” New Line Cinema next month will unleash its own King adaptation, “It.”

Detroit riot

Annapurna Pictures is making its premiere as a Hollywood distributor with the wide release of “Detroit,” the latest movie from Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”). The drama, which centers on civil unrest in Detroit in 1967, is expected to take in $10 million to $15 million Friday through Sunday, according to people who have reviewed audience surveys.

Reviews have been generally positive for its depiction of police violence against black men in a hotel, with a 95% “fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, propelling the film to a strong $350,000 in its limited release last weekend.

Annapurna Pictures, founded by Megan Ellison, daughter of Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison, previously only made movies for other studios to distribute. The West Hollywood-based production company is best known for adult dramas including “Her,” released by Warner Bros., and “American Hustle,” distributed by Sony.

Taken (from Relativity)

The new thriller “Kidnap,” which stars Halle Berry as a single mother on a mission to save her abducted son, had to be rescued from its own high-stakes drama before it could grace the multiplex.

It was previously supposed to get its release from Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media but was engulfed in the company’s high-profile Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015. The film, directed by Luis Prieto, suffered multiple delays before the producers took the project to Aviron Pictures, a new independent Beverly Hills-based entertainment company run by David Dinerstein.

“Kidnap” is not expected to do much business this weekend, with analysts predicting about $8 million in domestic ticket sales through Sunday.