Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: The Bat Finally Falls While Tropic Triumphs

Pineapple Express makes room for a flurry of new titles

by | August 17, 2008 | Comments

After ruling the North American box office for four consecutive weekends, The Dark Knight was finally bumped aside thanks to the top spot bow of the new action-comedy Tropic Thunder which enjoyed a solid debut. The Batman juggernaut still held up well in its fifth attack and became both the number two domestic blockbuster of all-time and the number one global smash of this year. The frame saw five other new films squeeze into the multiplexes with varying results. The overall top ten remained flat with last weekend as well as with last year.

Ben Stiller took control of the marketplace with his war movie Tropic Thunder which shot up an estimated $26M this weekend over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $37M over five days since debuting on Wednesday. The R-rated star vehicle averaged a solid $7,834 from 3,319 theaters. The extended gross lagged behind the $41.3M five-day bow of rival R-rated comedy Pineapple Express from just one week earlier despite having more starpower (Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., and Jack Black) and three times the budget ($90M compared to $27M for Pineapple).

But Tropic did earn better reviews, skews a little older, and has less direct competition on the second weekend so it does have the chance of holding up better in the weeks ahead. The raunchy comedy was heavily promoted by Paramount all summer and even scored extra media attention in recent weeks from protests and boycotts from groups offended by its envelope-pushing humor. The tale of actors shooting a war film who get thrown into harm’s way saw more of its business come later in its extended debut period than the younger-skewing Express did. Tropic‘s Friday-to-Sunday gross represented 70% of the overall take while for the Judd Apatow stoner movie, the weekend accounted for only 56%. According to studio research, 57% of the audience was male while 67% was 25 or older.

Settling for second place for the first time, The Dark Knight captured an estimated $16.8M and boosted its amazing cume to $471.5M. That allowed the Heath Ledger film to overtake Star Wars‘ $461M tally for the number two spot on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters. Of course, the original Darth Vader pic still sold more tickets given the differences in prices over the last few decades when it was released multiple times. As for tickets sold, the new Bruce Wayne actioner has generated roughly 66 million admissions putting it ahead of 2003’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (about 65 million) but a bit behind 2002’s Spider-Man (approximately 69 million).

Knight displayed another great hold in its fifth weekend dipping only 36% for its lowest decline yet. Overseas, the Caped Crusader hauled in an estimated $42.4M lifting the international total to a stunning $328.6M and the global gross to an eye-popping $800.1M. That allowed The Dark Knight to surpass the $777M of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to become 2008’s highest grossing movie worldwide. The domestic cume now looks to reach about $525M while the global gross may break the $1 billion mark.

Opening in third was the latest moneymaking vehicle from George Lucas, the computer animated feature Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The PG-rated film debuted to an estimated $15.5M from 3,452 theaters for a moderate $4,492 average. Warner Bros. released the film as an appetizer to October’s new Cartoon Network series which will pick up where the feature leaves off. The studio and the television network are both Time Warner entities. Reviews were harsh and the audience size was much smaller compared to the live-action Jedi tales.

The new horror entry Mirrors bowed in fourth place with an estimated $11.1M. Fox’s R-rated release stars Kiefer Sutherland as an ex-cop who battles spooky spirits and averaged a decent $4,176 from 2,664 locations.

Dropping from second to fifth, Sony’s stoner flick Pineapple Express grossed an estimated $10M in its second weekend and raised its total to $62.9M after only 12 days. The $27M Judd Apatow production looks to end its run in the neighborhood of $90M making it another profitable late-summer R-rated comedy just like the producer’s Superbad from last year and 2005’s The 40-Year-Old-Virgin which grossed $121.5M and $109.3M, respectively.

Universal’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor fell 48% to an estimated $8.6M raising the 17-day sum to $86.6M. Overseas where the Brendan Fraser-Jet Li pic is seeing more muscular results, the adventure sequel took in an estimated $32.6M from 56 markets this weekend. That boosted the third Mummy flick’s international total to $196.6M and the global gross to a stellar $283M.

Pierce Brosnan’s creepy singing in Mamma Mia! attracted another $6.5M of business, according to estimates, giving the Universal musical a slim 21% dip and a $116.4M domestic haul. The ABBA songfest grossed an estimated $16.8M internationally to lift the overseas take to $204.6M and the worldwide sum to a stellar $321M.

Following in eighth place was The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 with an estimated $5.9M, down 45%, for a 12-day tally of $32.1M. Look for a final of roughly $50M for the Warner Bros. sequel which will easily surpass the $39M of its 2005 predecessor. Sony’s Step Brothers ranked ninth with an estimated $5M, off 45%, for a $90.9M cume for Sony.

Rounding out the top ten was Woody Allen’s latest story Vicky Cristina Barcelona with an estimated $3.7M from a moderate national release in 692 playdates. Averaging a solid $5,361 per location, the PG-13 pic stars recent Oscar winner Javier Bardem as a Spanish casanova and attracted strong reviews from critics. The Weinstein Company marketed the film while MGM handled distribution duties. The performance was on par with the $5,663 opening weekend average of Allen’s last film Scoop from July 2006. Both starred Scarlett Johansson.

Debuting outside of the top ten with moderate results was the 3D animation offering Fly Me To The Moon which took in an estimated $2M from 452 3D-equipped theaters for a respectable $4,425 average. The G-rated release from Summit played mostly to young children and their families. The frame’s sixth national release was the Luke Wilson drama Henry Poole is Here which was mostly ignored by ticket buyers. The PG-rated film grossed an estimated $800,000 from 527 sites for a poor $1,518 average for Overture Films.

Four films were kicked out of the top ten over the weekend by the flood of new contenders. The 3D adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth dropped 29% to an estimated $3.5M in its sixth frame to boost its haul to $88.1M. A final gross of $97-100M seems likely making it a strong performer. Kevin Costner’s political comedy Swing Vote tumbled 63% to an estimated $1.2M and has collected just $14.7M to date. The Buena Vista release should drop out of the race with a mere $17M in sales.

Disney and Pixar watched their latest hit toon WALL•E become the top-grossing animated film of the year. The lovable Earth-class robot took in an estimated $1.8M, off 41%, and lifted its total to $214.1M. That put it ahead of the $211.9M of Kung Fu Panda for the toon crown. Look for WALL•E to finish its run with $217-219M putting it ahead of the $206.4M of last summer’s Ratatouille, but behind the $244.1M of 2006’s Cars.

After six weeks, Will Smith flew out of the top ten with his latest hit Hancock which banked an estimated $1.8M. The superhero-with-an-attitude pic fell 46% and saw its cume soar to $225.1M. It’s the fifth $200M+ blockbuster for the actor’s career and his second one in nine months after December’s I Am Legend exploded to $256.3M. Smith also has starred in $100M+ smashes for seven consecutive years now tying Adam Sandler as the most consistent hitmaker working today. Look for Hancock to reach $230M domestically and more than $600M worldwide.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $109.2M which was up 1% from last year when Superbad opened in the top spot with $33.1M; and up 26% from 2006 when Snakes on a Plane debuted at number one with $15.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,