‘The Mummy’ Targets ‘Dark Knight’

Brendan Fraser and Kevin Costner headline their new films The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Swing Vote this weekend with hopes of being known as the movie that took down The Dark Knight. For the The Mummy, maybe. Swing Vote doesn’t stand a chance, though.

Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

The latest Mummy is perhaps the summer’s first unnecessary sequel. There’s already been a spin-off, The Scorpion King, and that film’s reviews were sub-par at best, and it had weak legs at the box office. At least the main star has returned for this installment so that factor should help it some. The opening weekend tallies for The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and The Scorpion King were $43.4 million, $68.1 million, and $36.1 million respectively. All of these films debuted six to nine years ago so the franchise may not be as topical as it used to be. Those films also had far less competiton to deal with since they opened in early May / late April. Of course, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor has Batman to contend with.

Rush Hour 3 encountered many of the same problems last August when opened to just $49.1 million compared to $67.4 million for Rush Hour 2. Six years had passed between Rush Hour 2 and 3 which is about the same amount of town since the last Mummy movie. Rush Hour 3‘s reviews were a franchise worst. Tomb‘s reviews are even worse at just 10% positive on Rotten Tomatoes, which is the lowest for its franchise as well. Debuting in 3,759 theaters, Tomb should open to around $44 million.

That might be low enough for The Dark Knight to reign for a third straight week but probably not. The record for the largest third weekend ever is the first Spider-Man with $45 million. Even more amazing is that Spidey did it on the same weekend that Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones debuted. That record will be hard to beat. I’m going with about a $40 million third weekend and $391 million running total for Knight, which would be the highest total ever after three weekends.

Swing Vote is gunning for an older demographic which is often under served this time of year. This movie won’t do much to draw them in because of a weak ad campaign and weak reviews. This is targeting a group that usually pays attention to reviews so 35% positive is not going to cut it. Launching in 2,213 theaters, Swing Vote will be lucky to hit $8 million.

Swing Vote

Predictions for the weekend of August 1-3, 2008:

  1. The Mummy 3 – $44.2 million
  2. The Dark Knight – $40.1 million, -47%
  3. Step Brothers – $16.2 million, -48%
  4. Mamma Mia! – $12.2 million, -31%
  5. Swing Vote – $7.9 million
  6. Journey to the Center of the Earth – $6.3 million, -35%
  7. Hancock – $4.8 million, -42%
  8. Wall-E – $4.3 million, -33%
  9. X-Files: I Want to Believe – $3.9 million, -61%
  10. Hellboy II: The Golden Army – $2.7 million, -47%

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

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‘Dark Knight’ Sends ‘Spider-Man 3’ Down In Flames

It already demolished Spider-Man 3‘s opening weekend record, but on Wednesday, The Dark Knight passed up Spider-Man 3‘s total domestic box office gross of $336.5 million to become the third highest grossing superhero movie ever. Only the first two Spidey films have grossed higher. Knight will pass up those two over the next week. Wednesday’s daily gross of $8.8 million gives it a new total of $342.7 million which already puts it at number 13 among the top grossing films of all time after just 13 days of release.

Spider-Man 3

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

Return of the ‘R’ Rating to Summer Cinema

Over the past several summers, major studios have been reluctant to release an abundance of mainstream films with the rated ‘R’ signature stamped below it. Even franchises that were known for their ‘R’ rating were victims to the increasing trend of studios trying to cut them down to a more audience friendly ‘PG’ or ‘PG-13’ rating. Live Free or Die Hard, The Chronicles of Riddick, and Alien vs. Predator are recent cases of sequels to previous ‘R’-rated only franchises that were either edited by the studio to get the ‘PG-13’ rating or were made with the ‘PG-13’ mindset from the get-go. Even ‘PG-13’ franchises are being shaved down to a ‘PG’ rating as evidenced by last year’s summer sequels Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Evan Almighty.

Now whether the parameters that cause a film to receive the ‘R’ rating are right is certainly debatable. Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen are currently in a battle with the MPAA to get their upcoming film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, down to an ‘R’ rating from the unmarketable to a wide audience ‘NC-17’ rating.

Will Porno be an X-rated affair?

Will 'Porno' be an X-rated affair?

So it comes as a pleasant surprise after several summers of relative dormancy to see that the ‘R’ rating has returned to the forefront this summer. It’s not that I am totally against films with a less than ‘R’ rating. I just don’t appreciate it when a movie that you are watching would seen more appropriate if there was some material in it that would qualify as an ‘R’ type film. Alien vs. Predator is a big example, but at least that’s one aspect of the franchise that was fixed with the sequel.

Below, I have listed the top five ‘R’ rated opening from the past three summers.

Top R-rated Openers Summer 2006

  1. Miami Vice – $25.7 million ($63.5M total)
  2. The Omen – $16 million ($54.6M total)
  3. Snakes on a Plane – $13.8 million ($34M total)
  4. Crank – $10.5 million ($27.8M total)
  5. Waist Deep – $9.4 million ($21.3M total)

Top R-rated Openers Summer 2007

  1. Superbad – $33.1 million ($121.5M total)
  2. Knocked Up – $30.7 million ($148.8M total)
  3. Halloween – $26.4 million ($58.3M total)
  4. Mr. Brooks – $10 million ($28.5M total)
  5. War – $9.8 million ($22.5M total)

Top R-rated Openers Summer 2008

  1. Sex and the City – $57 million ($151M and counting)
  2. Wanted – $50.9 million ($129.4M and counting)
  3. Step Brothers – $30.9 million ($39.6M and counting)
  4. The Happening – $30.5 million ($64M and counting)
  5. The Strangers – $21 million ($52.6M total)

The summer of 2008 has already seen several big openings from ‘R’ rated films. Since the low point for R-rated films back in 2006, the average opening of these films has increased significantly. More importantly, this is not affecting overall box office tickets sales as some studios feared would happen. For the third year in a row, summer box office revenue has increased. This summer is even comparable to the summer of 2003, the biggest summer ever for this rating.

Top R-rated Openers Summer 2003

  1. The Matrix Reloaded – $91.8 million ($281.6M total)
  2. Bad Boys II – $46.5 million ($138.6M total)
  3. Terminator 3 – $44 million ($150.4M total)
  4. Freddy vs. Jason – $36.4 million ($82.6M total)
  5. American Wedding – $33.4 million ($104.6M total)

All of those from 2003 were sequels so naturally their openings are higher than the norm. None of the ‘R’ rated openings in the top five for this summer are sequels, which is all the more impressive. And were not even done with the summer yet. Two high profile action comedies, Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder, have already been designated as ‘R’ by the MPAA, and both open in August.

Pineapple Express to be rated R

'Pineapple Express' to be rated 'R'

Let’s hope this trend continues in future summers.

Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

‘The Dark Knight’ Swoops Past ‘Iron Man’

It’s official! On Monday, after just 11 days in release, The Dark Knight topped Iron Man at the box office to become North America’s highest grossing movie of the year. Monday’s tally of $10.5 million was more than enough to push Knight over the top. Total stands at $324.3 million and counting compared to Iron Man‘s $315 million haul.

The Dark Knight also set a new record on Monday for the most consecutive $10+ million days at 11 days. The old record was 10 days set by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

‘Dark Knight’, ‘Brothers’ Weekend Actuals for July 25-27

The weekend actuals are in, and most films were slightly understimated, with the exception of The Dark Knight and The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

The Dark Knight‘s official second weekend tally is $75.2 million, off less than 1% from the $75.6 million estimated on Sunday morning. That number is still well more than enough to claim the biggest second weekend of all time, and the film is still on pace to top Iron Man today to become the biggest hit of the year.

Step Brothers fared even better during its opening weekend than initailly projected by its studio on Sunday. Step only fell 6% on Sunday, which caused the $30 million estimate to raise 3% to $30.9 million. The X-Files: I Want to Believe wasn’t so lucky as the film was overstimated by 2% causing the actual numbers to fall to $10 million.

Meanwhile, Sony is attempting to push You Don’t Mess with the Zohan over $100 million as the film rose 5% to a $385,400 weekend despite losing about 15% of its theaters. This is likely the beginning of its secondary run in discount theaters. Total stands at $98.3 million, and it might take every single day of Zohan‘s run to pass $100 million.

Here are the top ten actuals for the weekend with my Thursday predictions in parentheses next to the actual number followed by the percentage drop from last weekend and then each film’s total.

  1. The Dark Knight – $75.2 million ($73M prediction), -53%, $313.8M total
  2. Step Brothers – $30.9M ($25.5M), NEW, $30.9M total
  3. Mamma Mia! – $17.7M ($16.9M), -36%, $62.6M total
  4. The X-Files: I Want to Believe – $10M ($14.8M), NEW, $10M total
  5. Journey to the Center of the Earth – $9.7M ($8.1M), -21%, $60.5M total
  6. Hancock – $8.3M ($7.8M), -41%, $206.5M total
  7. Wall-E – $6.4M ($6.6), -36%, $195.3M total
  8. Hellboy II: The Golden Army – $5.1M ($5.2M), -50%, $66.1M total
  9. Space Chimps – $4.5M ($5M), -37%, $16.2M total
  10. Wanted – $2.7M ($2.8M), -46%, $128.6M total

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

‘Brothers’ Step Over ‘X-Files’, ‘Mamma Mia!’ Holds Well

<< ‘Dark Knight’ Crowned Again

Step Brothers had a decent second place opening with an estimated $30 million from 3,094 theaters. The Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly starring comedy was their first collaboration since Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which opened to $47 million nearly two years ago. The start may have been somewhat lower than Talladega‘s, but that comedy was rated PG-13 and opened in a much less crowded field. Brothers debuted to nearly double the opening of Ferrell’s last R-rated comedy, Semi-Pro, which bombed earlier this year. If the film is able to post decent holds over the next few weeks, a $100 million final tally could be in order. However, direct competition is looming over the next weeks with Pineapple Express opening August 6 and Tropic Thunder launching August 13.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe debuted poorly, with an estimated fourth place $10.2 million debut from a probably too wide 3,185 theaters. That opening was a third of the $30.1 million that The X Files: Fight the Future debuted with a decade ago, and tickets were much cheaper back then to boot. The X-Files brand lost its cultural relevance several years ago when the show ended with less than spectacular viewership so only the die-hard fans showed up on its opening weekend.

Holdovers generally had much smaller declines than last weekend thanks to lower competition from openers.

Mamma Mia! posted a better hold than Hairspray had last year. Mamma Mia!‘s third place $17.9 million weekend represents just a 36% decline from last weekend’s already record breaking opening for a musical. It’s total stands at a potent $62.7 million. Hairspray descended 42% in its second weekend and finished up with an impressive 4.33 multiplier (total divided by opening weekend). Mamma Mia!‘s multiplier could be even larger meaning the film could finish north of $125 million.

Journey to the Center of the Earth continues to impress earning $9.4 million and dropping a small 24%. After three weekends, Journey has now carved out $60.2 million. Without much in the way of direct competition the rest of the summer, the film now stands a shot at finishing over $100 million. Regardless, the Brendan Fraser starrer has performed very well at its digital 3D locations, which should convince many more theater owners to adopt the technology.

In sixth place, Hancock dropped a decent 42% with $8.2 million in its fourth weekend. Total stands at $206.4 million. Wall-E finally showed some typical Pixar legs as the film dropped 37% with $6.3 million. After five weeks, the lovable robot has raked in $195.2 million.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army posted a much better hold than last weekend since it didn’t have another new superhero opening to contend with. HBII dropped 51% for a $4.9 million and a $65.9 million running tally. A $75 million total is likely. Space Chimps added $4.4 million more this weekend, and the computer animated film has only collected a weak $16 million after ten days of release. The film will be lucky to finish much over $25 million. Spending its final week in the top ten, Wanted grabbed $2.7 million and has shot up $128.6 million after five weeks. About $135 million is the final target.

Next weekend, Brenden Fraser returns in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which will try to dethrone The Dark Knight from the top spot. Kevin Costner leads the older skewing comedy Swing Vote, which is currently not tracking very well, but there’s still a week to go.

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

‘Dark Knight’ Crowned Again, ‘Brothers’ Step Over ‘X-Files’

The Dark Knight kept a firm grip atop the North American box office this weekend while establishing several new records in the process. Meanwhile, Step Brothers out-grossed fellow opener The X-Files: I Want to Believe by a nearly 3 to 1 margin.

The Dark Knight made off with an estimated $75.6 million to easily lead the box office for a second weekend. It’s the film film since Iron Man, over two months ago, to stay at the top position for back-to-back frames. That figure beats the $72.2 million take from Shrek 2 to establish a new record for the largest second weekend ever. Knight has now collected $314.2 million giving it the highest total ever after ten days. It’s now less than a day away from topping Iron Man to become the biggest hit of 2008. It also demolished the record for the fastest film to reach $300 million, doing it in just ten days. The old record was 16 days set by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Knight is now easily on pace to become the fastest film to $400 million. That milestone will fall by the end of its fourth weekend, at the very latest.

Dark Knight‘s 52% drop is an amazing hold for a blockbuster film with such upfront demand. By comparison, Dead Man’s Chest, another previous opening weekend record holder, dropped a slightly steeper 54% in its sophomore weekend in July 2006. Dead Man’s Chest holds after its second weekend were softer, and it finished with a 3.12 multiplier (total divided by opening weekend). If the latest Batman film followed the same pattern, it would end up with just under $500 million in total ($494M to be precise), but the slightly better second weekend hold suggests that the Caped Crusader could be able to become only the second film in history to cross the half a billion dollar barrier. More >>

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers