LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Big-budget World War II epic Dunkirk stormed to the top of the North American box office in its opening weekend on the strength of stellar reviews and a sterling big screen debut by pop star Harry Styles, industry estimates showed Sunday (July 23).
The film directed by Briton Christopher Nolan, which took in an estimated US$50.5 million ($1.36 million) in the United States and Canada, has been hailed by many critics as a masterpiece.
It stars One Direction singer Styles in the retelling of the heroic evacuation in 1940 of hundreds of thousands of Allied troops from a beach in northern France under constant German bombardment.
Raunchy comedy Girls Trip starring Queen Latifah and Will Smith's better half Jada Pinkett Smith, debuted in second place with US$30.4 million in tickets sold.
Third place went to Spider-Man: Homecoming, which pulled in US$22 million in its third week of release. Overall, it has raked in more than $250 million in North America.
Last week's box office leader, War For the Planet of the Apes - the latest installation in the saga of intelligent primates' battle against an evil human dictator - raked in US$20.4 million in its second week for fourth place.
Rounding out the top five was another debut, Luc Besson's US$180 million space fantasy Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The EuropaCorp-financed film starring Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, said to be the most expensive independent film ever made, grossed just over US$17 million.
Rounding out the top 10 were: Despicable Me 3 (US$12.7 million) Baby Driver (US$6.0 million) The Big Sick (US$5.0 million) Wonder Woman (US$4.6 million) Wish Upon (US$2.5 million) .