Sunday, August 17, 2008

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: The Dark Knight Undone by a Tropical Storm

It had to happen eventually. There was only so long it could sit there so comfortably, balking at all who attempted to take it down. First came STEP BROTHERS but they had to settle for the bottom bunk. Then came THE MUMMY 3 but it had to settle an economy-size tomb. Then it seemed certain that PINEAPPLE EXPRESS would smoke him out but they had to settle for the leftover roach. This week though, THE DARK KNIGHT could only do so much to weather the storm as Ben Stiller’s TROPIC THUNDER seized the top box office spot after THE DARK KNIGHT’s phenomenal four-week stay.

TROPIC THUNDER opened on Wednesday to somewhat promising results and went on to capture the weekend frame with a five-day total of just over $37 million. This is a few less than last week’s PINEAPPLE EXPRESS but as most critics, excluding this one, prefer TROPIC THUNDER over PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, it should suffer less of a decline than the Judd Apatow-produced stoner flick did in its second week. I guess it isn’t always that easy to get the stoners out of the house.

THE DARK KNIGHT does still get some bragging rights this week as it schooled not one but two Star Wars pics. First of all, the new animated STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS had to settle for third place behind the bat. The mediocre opening could signal the decline of the series’ popularity but with plans to re-release all of the original films yet again in 3D, George Lucas shows no signs of letting go. More importantly though, at $471 million total gross, THE DARK KNIGHT has surpassed the original STAR WARS ($460 million) as the second highest grossing film in North American history. It has a ways to go to beat TITANIC’s $600 million but if we all go see THE DARK KNIGHT like five more times each, I’m sure we can do it! C’mon people!

A handful of other films opened this week to varying results. The Keifer Sutherland scarefest, MIRRORS, opened in fourth with a barely frightening $11 million. Another 3D-pusing propaganda pic, the animated FLY ME TO THE MOON, opened below the Top 10 with a measly $2 million. Still, it only opened of 452 screens, which is abnormally low for a family film but I doubt this space bug movie will take off in the weeks to come. Apparently, the face of Jesus appearing on the side of stucco wall was of little interest to anyone as HENRY POOLE IS HERE opened dismally with a per screen average of $1500 on 527 screens. Perhaps the most disappointing reception was for Woody Allen’s latest, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA. Well, it did well, especially for an Allen movie. Opening larger than usual on 692 screens, the film cracked the Top 10 but I expected the buzz to generate a higher per screen average $5300. Word of mouth is all it has now and with mouths as beautiful as Penelope Cruz’s and Scarlet Johansson’s, the future could still be bright.

NEXT WEEK: The summer is winding down and the pickings are getting pretty slim. The widest release next week is the Wednesday bow of THE ROCKER, followed by THE HOUSE BUNNY and DEATH RACE. And if convict drag racing, over-aged rock stars or ditzy blondes don’t do it for you, well there’s always the Ice Cube family film, THE LONGSHOTS. Long shot, indeed.

Source: Box Office Mojo

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