Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Dark Knight #1 for Fourth Time

Pineapple Express makes a solid debut.

by | August 10, 2008 | Comments

The unstoppable box office superhero The Dark Knight once again defeated all foes and spent its fourth consecutive weekend at number one becoming the first film in nearly five years to accomplish the fourpeat. With the gold medal going to Batman, Seth Rogen and James Franco shared the silver with their new stoner comedy Pineapple Express which posted a solid five-day debut. The frame’s other new release, the friendship sequel
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, debuted in fourth with commendable results. Showing signs that the summer box office is coming to an end, the top ten slumped to its lowest tally of the season.

Moviegoers once again drove The Dark Knight to the top spot as Warner Bros. grossed an estimated $26M in its fourth weekend to boost the 24-day total to an unbelievable $441.5M. The Caped Crusader continued to reach new milestones. Down only 39%, the superhero sequel shot up to number three on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters and sits behind only Titanic which grossed $600.8M during one theatrical run across 1997 and 1998, and
Star Wars which took in $461M from multiple releases over different


Of course, ticket prices were much lower during those years and Knight is not likely to match those films in admissions. The new Joker film has sold roughly 62 million stubs which puts it on the same level as 2003’s
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King which grossed $377M and sits at number ten on the all-time list. Coincidentally, the final Frodo pic was the last movie to spend four straight weekends at number one. Mel Gibson’s
The Passion of the Christ hit the top spot over four non-consecutive frames in 2004 including its first three sessions as well as its seventh outing which was the Easter holiday weekend. In today’s crowded marketplace, especially in the summer when even megahits like
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Transformers, and
The Bourne Ultimatum only spend one week at the top, The Dark Knight‘s feat is truly incredible.

The new Batman movie also smashed the $700M barrier in worldwide grosses this weekend. Overseas audiences in 56 markets spent an estimated $35.1M allowing the international total to soar to $263.1M while the global tally climbed to a jaw-dropping $704.6M. Opening against the start of the Beijing Olympics, Knight saw stunning first-place numbers in Korea with $6.9M in five days which already puts it ahead of the lifetime gross of
Batman Begins. The turnout was not as bright in Japan where it bowed in second place to $3M beating the opening of Begins by only 11%.
The Dark Knight now looks set to reach the neighborhood of $520M from North America and more than $900M worldwide.

The stoner comedy Pineapple Express claimed second place with an opening of $22.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a gross of $40.5M since its Wednesday launch. Rated R, the Rogen-Franco buddy pic played in 3,072 theaters and averaged $7,292 per joint for the best average in the top ten. The Judd Apatow production got off to a red hot start with a blistering $12.1M bow on Wednesday driven by older teens and young adults rushing out on the first day to see the much-buzzed-about comedy.
Pineapple lost some steam as the weekend came with $7.9M on Friday, a 3% dip to $7.6M on Saturday, and a slim studio-estimated 9% drop on Sunday to $6.9M. Friday-to-Saturday declines are not uncommon during the summer, but when a midweek launch takes some fuel out of the Friday gross, usually some kind of increase will occur on Saturday.


The action-comedy basically played out like a highly-anticipated sequel over the five-day period. A whopping 45% of the cume was collected on Wednesday and Thursday matching the ratio of last summer’s
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which grossed $62.6M of its five-day $139.7M tally on those two first days. Non-sequels opening on a Wednesday in July or August generally take in 30-35% in the first two days of play. Produced for $27M,
Pineapple looks to be a profitable venture regardless of what kind of legs it displays. Studio research showed that 58% of the audience was male while the CinemaScore grade was a solid A-. Reviews were generally good. Competition will heat up fast with this Wednesday’s launch of rival R-rated action-comedy Tropic Thunder
starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Cruise.

The adventure sequel The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor finished in third place in North America, but on a worldwide basis it remained at number one this weekend. Domestically the Universal actioner tumbled 60% to an estimated $16.1M boosting the ten-day tally to $70.7M. That was a much harder fall than the sophomore declines for the first two installments in the Brendan Fraser franchise.
The Mummy fell by 43% in 1999 while The Mummy Returns dropped by 51% in 2001. Both of those launched on the first weekend of May to kickoff their respective summer seasons. A final gross of $100-110M could result stateside for the $145M-budgeted pic. Overseas where the film is generating more excitement, Dragon Emperor hauled in a stunning $56.1M this weekend from 49 territories and raised its international cume to $141.1M. The global gross soared to $211.8M with a few big markets like Japan and China still to come.


Girlpower drove The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 to a fourth place debut with an estimated $10.8M for the weekend and $19.7M since opening on Wednesday. That represented a healthy 45% increase over the $13.6M five-day bow of the first
Sisterhood in June 2005. That film went on to gross a modest $39M for Warner Bros. and found more fans on video. The new
Pants opened in 2,707 locations and averaged a decent $3,979 per site which was on par with the $3,807 three-day debut average of its predecessor. Reviews were positive.

Will Ferrell’s latest comedy Step Brothers dropped 46% in its third weekend to an estimated $8.9M and lifted its total to $80.9M for Sony. The leggy musical
Mamma Mia! grossed an estimated $8.1M in its fourth weekend slipping only 36%. Universal’s cume rose to $104M with the Meryl Streep hit becoming the twelfth $100M blockbuster of the summer. The industry had 14 at this point last year. For the Oscar-winning actress, the ABBA songfest marks her fourth time joining the century club. The studio placed its bets on expensive action movies this summer with
The Incredible Hulk, Wanted, plus the Hellboy and Mummy sequels. However, Mamma Mia! could very well fly past all of them if it keeps up its stellar pace and become Universal’s top-grossing film of the year. Overseas, the film grossed another $14.7M and boosted the international sum to $173.4M and the global tally to an amazing $277.4M.


Brendan Fraser’s second offering in the top ten, the 3D adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth, folllowed with an estimated $4.9M, off a mere 27%, giving New Line and Warner Bros. $81.8M to date. The Will Smith superhero flick
Hancock fell 35% to an estimated $3.3M for a $221.7M sum for Sony.

Kevin Costner followed with his political comedy Swing Vote which tumbled 50% to an estimated $3.1M in its second term. With only $12M in ten days, look for a disappointing $20M finish. The Pixar toon
WALL•E was the oldest resident in the top ten rounding out the list with an estimated $3M in its seventh session. Down 34%, the Disney release has banked $210.1M thus far.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $106.6M which was down 20% from last year when Rush Hour 3 opened in the top spot with $49.1M; but up 3% from 2006 when Talladega Nights stayed at number one with $22.1M in its second frame.