Los Angeles — The Emoji Movie survived negative reviews but couldn't conquer Dunkirk, which had enough fight left to conquer the box office for a second weekend in a row.
Down only 44% from its first weekend, director Christopher Nolan's World War II film earned $28.1m to take first place, according to studio estimates on Sunday.
Dunkirk has grossed $102.8m domestically to date.
Sony Pictures Animation's The Emoji Movie finished second with $25.7m. The film featuring the voices of T.J. Miller and Anna Faris as anthropomorphized emojis got pummelled by critics. It's currently resting at a dismal 8% on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences still turned out.
"It's great when the critics and audiences are in sync but in the end it comes down to: Has the film reached the intended audience?" said Adrian Smith, Sony's president of domestic distribution. "Seeing these results, it clearly has."
Sony is expecting the film, which cost an estimated $50m to produce, to play well for the rest of the summer.
The divide between reviews and a film's success has been a continuing topic this summer, as some films, such as Baywatch, capsized under poor reviews, and others like The Emoji Movie seemed immune.
"Kids don't care about reviews and there is a severe lack of family films in the marketplace," said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for comScore.
But The Emoji Movie also fell at the box office throughout the weekend after a strong Friday when it placed No. 1, which Dergarabedian thinks could be due to negative word of mouth on social media. By contrast, the extremely well-reviewed Dunkirk rose throughout the weekend.
Also holding on quite well is Universal Pictures R-rated comedy Girls Trip, which fell a miniscule 36% from its debut weekend to take third place with $20.1m.
Even in weekend two, Girls Trip beat out the splashy new Charlize Theron actioner Atomic Blonde, distributed by Universal's boutique label Focus Features. Atomic Blonde opened in fourth with $18.6m.
"We think it's a really solid opening for the movie and think that the film is going to have a nice long life at the box office for the summer," said Lisa Bunnell, president of distribution for Focus Features.
Theron produced and stars in the film about a British spy on a mission in Berlin near the end of the Cold War. It cost an estimated $30m to produce. While reviews were generally positive, audiences gave the film a middling B CinemaScore, which could impact its word-of-mouth potential.
In fifth place was Spider-Man: Homecoming now in its fourth weekend in theatre. The new web-slinger added $13.5m which bumped its domestic total to $278.4m.
Homecoming has now officially passed both Amazing Spider-Man movies at the North American box office, although it is still lagging significantly behind the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films.
While the summer box office remains down from last year, audiences are still turning out for some of the buzzier specialty releases. Annapurna Pictures rolled out the Kathryn Bigelow film Detroit, about an incident during the 1967 riots, a week before its nationwide launch in 20 theaters in 10 markets including Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Atlanta.
"We were doing early word of mouth screenings and they were very strong. People were hanging in the lobby of theaters after talking and talking. We decided to kick start the conversation early," said Annapurna distribution president Erik Lomis. "We're really excited to launch this picture."
Detroit earned a strong $365 455 from the limited launch.
Also playing well in limited release is the Al Gore-led climate change documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which took in $130 000 from four locations.