Dunkirk emerges victorious in battle for the box office

Girls Trip is another big weekend winner, while Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets flops.

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan's World War Two epic Dunkirk has claimed victory in the battle for the North American box office.

The ensemble movie, starring Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, and Cillian Murphy, shot to number one with an estimated $50.5 million (£38.9 million) debut.

"We're beyond thrilled with this exceptional achievement for Dunkirk," shared Jeff Goldstein, head of distribution for film studio Warner Bros. "The critical reception worldwide has been consistently effusive. It really propelled this movie that wasn't an obvious win."

Dunkirk, which also features pop star Harry Styles in his acting debut, is based on the 1940 Allied evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk in France.

The war movie has easily outpaced its closest competitor, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith's raunchy comedy Girls Trip, which opens in second place with an impressive $30.4 million (£23.4 million) take.

Meanwhile, director Luc Besson's ambitious space epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets failed to excite cinema-goers, earning a disappointing $17 million (£13 million) to open in fifth place on the new countdown.

The sci-fi film, based on the French comics Valerian and Laureline, stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, and Rihanna, and cost a hefty $180 million (£138.5 million) to make, but suffered from less-than-positive reviews, with just a 54 per cent rating on top review website Rotten Tomatoes.

It enters the box office chart behind Spider-Man: Homecoming, which takes third place with $22 million (£16.9 million) from its third weekend on release, and War for the Planet of the Apes, which completes the top five at four with a $20.4 million (£15.7 million) weekend take.

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