Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Tropic Thunder Holds Strong

While the Bunny hops close on its heels

by | August 24, 2008 | Comments

The final days of summer took their toll on the North American box office as moviegoing slowed down dramatically allowing Tropic Thunder to remain in first place for a second straight weekend. Among the frame’s four new releases, young females showed the most muscle powering the sorority comedy The House Bunny into second place while adult men pushed Jason Statham’s latest action pic Death Race into third. Ice Cube’s football drama The Longshots barely made the top ten while the Rainn Wilson comedy The Rocker was dead on arrival bowing at number twelve.

Ben Stiller and his platoon of actors stayed in control of the box office with a healthy second weekend for Tropic Thunder which grossed an estimated $16.1M. Dropping only 38%, the R-rated action-comedy displayed a good hold and bumped its 12-day total to a solid $65.7M. The $90M Paramount release looks set to find its way to $105-115M.

Anna Faris attracted a solid opening to her new comedy The House Bunny which performed above expectations with an estimated $15.1M. The PG-13 movie finds the star of the Scary Movie franchise playing an ex-Playboy bunny who becomes a house mother to a sorority of misfits. Sony released the film in 2,714 sites and averaged an encouraging $5,564. With so many action films and R-rated comedies aimed at guys over the past month, Bunny served as effective counter-programming for young women who showed up in impressive numbers. According to studio research, an incredibly high 68% of the audience was female while 54% was under 21. The production budget was $25M.

Finishing in third place for the weekend was Universal’s new Jason Statham actioner Death Race with an estimated $12.3M from 2,532 locations. Averaging a respectable $4,855 per theater, the R-rated pic performed in line with the actor’s other offerings debuting higher than 2006’s Crank ($10.5M) but lower than 2005’s Transporter 2 ($16.5M). Both of those opened over Labor Day weekend. As expected, adult men made up the bulk of the audience with studio research showing that 63% of the crowd was male while 52% was 25 and older. Death Race carried a $45M pricetag making it more expensive than most of the action hero’s previous starring vehicles.

Hollywood’s biggest superhero ever followed in fourth as The Dark Knight pulled in an estimated $10.3M in its sixth weekend. Sliding only 37%, the Warner Bros. megasmash pushed its record cume up to $489.2M and should surpass the $500M mark next weekend. The magic continued overseas with an estimated $34M from 62 markets this weekend sending the international total soaring to $381.2M. With the global tally now standing at a towering $870M, The Dark Knight should easily become only the fourth movie in history to top $1 billion at the worldwide box office following Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Suffering the worst decline in the top ten was Star Wars: The Clone Wars which tumbled 61% to an estimated $5.7M pushing the ten-day tally to $25M. The Warner Bros. animated entry should finish up with $36-38M. Sony’s Pineapple Express followed closely with an estimated $5.6M, down 43%, putting the stoner comedy’s cume at $73.9M. The horror flick Mirrors dropped 56% to an estimated $4.9M in its second weekend and has scared up $20.1M after ten days. A $30M tally is likely by the end of the run.

Two films tied for eighth place with an estimated $4.3M in ticket sales each. Universal’s musical smash Mamma Mia! dipped just 29% and raised its domestic haul to $124.5M. This Friday the studio will release in selected theaters a new sing-along version of the hit film for Labor Day weekend which includes on-screen lyrics to all the songs to encourage audience participation, and prolong the box office run. Mamma’s overseas sum zoomed to $232.5M pushing the global gross to a stellar $357M.

The other film in the number eight spot was the new Ice Cube football pic The Longshots which averaged only $2,058 from 2,089 locations. The PG-rated film was released by MGM and earned lukewarm reviews. Universal rounded out the top ten with The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor which grossed an estimated $4.1M, down 50%, for a $93.8M total. The overseas tally climbed to $222.4M giving the China-set adventure sequel a muscular $316M worldwide with 70% coming from outside of North America.

Fox’s new Rainn Wilson comedy The Rocker debuted to pathetic results and failed to make the top ten. The PG-13 pic headlined by the co-star of The Office bowed to an estimated $2.75M from 2,784 theaters (the most for any new film this weekend) and averaged a pitiful $988 per site. It was the worst opening in box office history for a film bowing in 2,600+ theaters. Audiences ignored the pic sending a message to Hollywood that Wilson is not yet ready to graduate from second banana in the sitcom world to leading man of a theatrical release. Since its Wednesday launch, The Rocker has collected just $3.8M in five days.

Making a moderate splash in limited release was the quirky indie comedy Hamlet 2 which debuted with an estimated $435,000 from 103 theaters for a mediocre $4,226 average. A smash at this year’s Sundance film festival where it was bought by Focus for a hefty $10M, the R-rated tale tells of a high school drama teacher and his students who put on a controversial musical in order to save their arts program. The distributor is hoping that this weekend’s limited debut will spark word-of-mouth that will fuel next weekend’s national expansion into 1,500 theaters over the long holiday session. But given this start, the road ahead will not be a smooth one. In 1999, Rushmore debuted in the same number of theaters but grossed $1.8M on opening weekend with a $17,881 average on its way to $17.1M overall. Almost Famous launched in 131 sites with $2.3M and a $17,669 average on its way to $32.5M. Hamlet 2 will need plenty of fan support if it wants to stay on screens into the fall season.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $82.6M which was off 2% from last year when Superbad stayed in the top spot with $18M in its sophomore frame; but up 9% from 2006 when Invincible debuted at number one with $17M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,