Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Wrapup: The Bat Smashes More Records

And pushes the competition into the shadows

by | July 27, 2008 | Comments

More records were smashed into bits by the unstoppable megahit The Dark Knight which remained at number one by a comfortable margin for the second straight time. Moviegoers had mixed feelings for the two new releases with the Will Ferrell comedy Step Brothers scoring a solid second place bow while the sci-fi sequel The X-Files: I Want to Believe underperformed barely reaching double-digit millions.

Audiences once again filled theaters all weekend for the superhero blockbuster The Dark Knight which grossed an estimated $75.6M dropping a reasonable 52% from its record-breaking opening weekend. With the cume soaring to an eye-popping $314.2M after only ten days, the Warner Bros. release shattered the $300M mark in record time. The old record was held by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest which banked $258.4M of loot over its first ten days and crossed the triple-century mark in 16 days.

The new Batman film also set a new record for the largest second weekend gross outdistancing the $72.2M that Shrek 2 hauled in back in May 2004. Knight has now virtually matched the $314.9M collected by Iron Man over the last three months and will become the year’s highest grossing blockbuster on Monday. On the all-time list, the new Joker saga has quickly climbed up to number 23 sitting right next to 2001’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Dark Knight‘s hold was impressive considering how much business it already absorbed on the first weekend. Looking at the largest opening weekends in movie history, second weekend drops were 62% for Spider-Man 3, 54% for Dead Man’s Chest, and 56% for Shrek the Third. Word-of-mouth has been strong for the Christopher Nolan-directed sequel and the Imax showings continue to be a major event creating even more excitement and repeat business.

Given its sturdy hold, Knight now looks to be on a trajectory that will see it zoom past the $400M mark by the end of its third week of release. With most of the summer’s tentpole titles already played out, and a full month before students go back to school, the Caped Crusader now has a realistic shot of breaking through the $500M mark domestically joining only Titanic in that exclusive stratosphere.

Overseas, The Dark Knight was a dominant force grossing an estimated $65.6M and ranking number one in 43 markets. The opening in the United Kingdom which followed last week’s glitzy London premiere led the way with $22.3M, including previews, while holdover markets dropped by an average of only 38%. The early international cume rose to $126.3M putting the global tally at a stunning $440.5M with major territories like Japan, Germany, Korea, and France still to open. A worldwide haul of more than $1 billion is certainly possible for Bruce Wayne and pals.

Sony scored a solid opening with the new comedy Step Brothers starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly which premiered in second place with an estimated $30M. It was the fourth best opening ever for Ferrell trailing Talladega Nights ($47M), Blades of Glory ($33M), and Elf ($31.1M). Brothers averaged a potent $9,696 from 3,094 locations and its R rating didn’t seem to hurt its box office punch. The story of two 40-year-old slackers forced to live together after their single parents marry doubled the $15.1M bow of the comedian’s last film Semi-Pro which also carried the R rating.

Produced for $65M, Step Brothers played to young men as expected. Studio research showed that 54% of the audience was male while 66% was under 25. Sony found a great slot on the calendar following a seemingly endless string of superhero and action movies from late June into July so moviegoers were in need of some star-driven comic relief. Plus the sibling rivalry film reached the marketplace ahead of two other R-rated comedies – Sony’s own stoner flick Pineapple Express opening August 6 and Paramount’s war romp Tropic Thunder launching a week later on August 13.

The ABBA musical Mamma Mia! held up remarkably well in it second weekend slipping only 36% to an estimated $17.9M for third place. The Meryl Streep-led pic has now grossed a stellar $62.7M in its first ten days and has been playing to female moviegoers at a time when so many other films in theaters are targeting guys. Mamma delivered slightly better results than last summer’s Hairspray which dropped 42% in its sophomore frame to $15.9M for a $59.7M ten-day tally. A final tally of $120-125M could result for Mamma Mia!

Opening to weak results in fourth place was Fox’s sci-fi sequel The X-Files: I Want to Believe with an estimated $10.2M from 3,185 locations for a mild $3,203 average. The disappointing debut was just a fraction of the $30.1M bow that its predecessor generated ten years ago in June 1998. Factor in higher ticket prices and the new adventure for Mulder and Scully attracted less than one-fourth of the audience of the first X-Files.

Audience erosion, direct competition from The Dark Knight, mixed reviews, and a weak marketing push all contributed to the lackluster performance. Budgeted at just $30M, the PG-13 film played evenly between males and females and saw adults 25 and older make up 70% of the crowd, according to studio research. Fox now looks to end the summer as the only major studio without a $100M hit this season.

New Line’s 3D adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth enjoyed the best hold in the top ten dipping only 24% to an estimated $9.4M in its third session. The total for the Warner Bros. release is now a solid $60.2M. Will Smith followed close behind with Hancock which became the superstar’s fifth career blockbuster to cross the $200M domestic mark. The Sony title grossed an estimated $8.2M, off 42%, for a cume to date of $206.4M.

The animated comedy WALL•E slipped 37% to an estimated $6.3M pushing its sum to $195.2M. After its fifth weekend, the G-rated pic is running 9% ahead of Pixar’s Ratatouille from last year but 5% behind the pace for the company’s 2006 summer offering Cars. The superhero flick Hellboy II: The Golden Army ranked eighth with an estimated $4.9M, down 51%, giving Universal a mediocre $65.9M to date.

Fox’s intergalactic toon Space Chimps dropped 39% in its second weekend to an estimated $4.4M putting the ten-day total at just $16M. A final tally of $25-30M seems likely. Rounding out the top ten was the Angelina Jolie actioner Wanted with an estimated $2.7M, falling 46%, putting the assassin thriller at a robust $128.6M to date

Author: Gitesh Pandya,