‘The Dark Knight’ Drills Through $500 Million

On Sunday, The Dark Knight became only the second film ever to cross $500 million domestically. It took just 45 days to reach the mark versus 98 days for Titanic, the only other film to cross the half a billion mark. However, Titanic had a much less frontloaded run than most blockbusters, which allowed it to stay in wide release for nearly a year.

With $503 million as of Sunday, The Dark Knight needs nearly $100 million more to sink Titanic, but with the weekend takes now slipping below $10 million, that possibility is becoming unlikely. It’s still not completely out of the realm of possibility yet, especially if Warner Bros. is able to keep all or most of its still lucrative IMAX screens for several more months. There’s also still a chance of the film being re-released January in theaters if the anticipated Oscar nominations are realized.

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

Predictions for ‘Disaster Movie’, ‘Babylon A.D.’

Here are my box office predictions for the final weekend of the 2008 summer season:

3 Day (Friday-to-Sunday) August 29-31 Predictions:

  1. Tropic Thunder$12.5 million, -23%, $84.8 M total
  2. Babylon A.D. (3,390 theaters) – $12.4 M, NEW
  3. Disaster Movie (2,642 theaters) – $10.8 M, NEW
  4. The Dark Knight$10 M, -5%, $503.7 M total
  5. The House Bunny$8.9 M, -39%, $28.5 M total
  6. Death Race$6.9 M, -45%, $23.7 M total
  7. Traitor (2,054 theaters) – $5.8 M, NEW, $7.3 M since Wed. launch
  8. Mamma Mia!$4.4 M, +2%, $131.5 M total
  9. College (2,123 theaters) – $4 M, NEW
  10. Pineapple Express$3.8 M, -30%, $80.2 M total
  • Hamlet 2 (1,597 theaters) – $1.8 M, NEW (wide release), $2.8 M total

4 Day Labor day Weekend Predictions:

  1. Tropic Thunder$15.8 million, -3%, $88.1 M total
  2. Babylon A.D. (3,390 theaters) – $15 M, NEW
  3. Disaster Movie (2,642 theaters) – $13 M, NEW
  4. The Dark Knight$12.9 M, +22%, $506.8 M total
  5. The House Bunny$10.9 M, -25%, $30.5 M total
  6. Death Race$8.7 M, -31%, $25.5 M total
  7. Traitor (2,054 theaters) – $7.4 M, NEW, $8.9 M since Wed. launch
  8. Mamma Mia!$5.7 M, +32%, $132.8 M total
  9. College (2,123 theaters) – $4.8 M, NEW
  10. Pineapple Express$4.7 M, -14%, $81.1 M total
  • Hamlet 2 (1,597 theaters) – $2.2 M, NEW (wide release), $3.8 M total

I know what you're thinking but 'Disaster Movie's strictly PG-13

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

‘Tropic Thunder’ Defeats ‘The Clone Wars’

After four incredible weeks atop the box office, The Dark Knight was finally brought down to Earth by the Frat Pack. Tropic Thunder launched with a solid $25.8 million from 3,319 theaters over the weekend and $36.8 million since its Wednesday debut. The action comedy became the 7th ‘R’ rated film of the summer to open over $20 million compared to just three from last summer and one from 2006. The $6.5 million Wednesday opening day was considerably lower than the $12 million opening Wednesday tally from Pineapple Express, but Tropic Thunder displayed consider growth as the weekend progressed. It’s nearly $26 million weekend tally was slightly better than the $23.2 million from Pineapple‘s first weekend. This makes the long term prospects better for Thunder, but on the down side, the budget for the film is reported to be over twice that of Pineapple‘s.

Tropic Thunder

Opening in third to un-franchise-like results was Star Wars: The Clone Wars with just $14.6 million from a very wide 3,452 theaters. The animated film was never expected to come even close to the heights of the live action Star Wars films, but most of the industry pegged it to open in at least the low-20’s range. Even worse, the film dropped nearly 20% on Saturday and another 33% on Sunday, indicating a very frontloaded film. Most of the die-hard fans have already seen the animated space opera, which is set between Episodes II and III, and its not creating much interest among more casual fans of the franchise. The Warner Bros. film will likely finish below $40 million.

The Star Wars franchise suffered another blow this weekend thanks to The Dark Knight. $16.4 million from over the weekend was enough to push it past the original Star Wars to become number two on the all time domestic chart. The Bat has collected a massive $471.1 million in just 31 days and is on pace to crack $500 million by Labor Day.

Debuting in fourth place to decent numbers was Mirrors. The ‘R’ rated horror film from 20th Century Fox opened to $11.2 million from 2,664 theaters. With the arrival of another ‘R’ rated action comedy, Pineapple Express posted a large 58% drop for a $9.8 million weekend and $62.7 million 12 day total. An $80-$85 million final should result.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor continued to fade away falling over 50% with $8.2 million in its third weekend. With $86.2 million so far, a total just north of $100 million is likely. In seventh, Mamma Mia! continued to impress with $6.1 million in its fifth weekend, off only 26% from last week. After similar openings, the ABBA musical will pass Hairspray‘s total in just a few days. Another chick flick, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, fell 46% in its second weekend with $5.8 million. The $32 million 12 day total is considerably higher than its predecessor through the same point in its run. In ninth, Step Brothers continued its predictable run dropping 47% with $4.8 million in its fourth weekend. With $90.7 million so far, a $100 million+ total is likely.

In tenth place, Vicky Cristina Barcelona posted the largest opening for a Woody Allen film in nearly a decade. The well-reviewed film debuted with $3.8 million from just 692 sites for a good $5,427 per theater average. That average indicates that there might be room for Vicky to expand in the coming weeks.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Falling to 11th in its sixth weekend, Journey to the Center of the Earth dropped just 31% to $3.3 million. With $88 million in the bank, the 3D feature may be able to squeeze out a $100 million total. Another 3D film, Fly Me to the Moon, opened in 12th place with $1.9 million from 452 digital 3D screens. The animated film did not enjoy the success that Journey had for several reasons. Moon was shown only in 3D and had to share many of its screens with Journey, while the latter film opened in both 3D and 2D locations. Moon was also distributed by a rookie studio, Summit Entertainment.

Another animated film, Wall-E, fell out of the top ten in its eighth weekend, with $1.8 million and a running tally of $214.1 million. The lovable robot is now the highest grossing animated film of the year.

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ moves to summer ’09

Wow, this is some very major and unexpected news. Box Office Mojo is reporting that Warner Bros. has moved Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from mid-November of this year to next summer, July 17, 2009 to be exact. The weekend before Thanksgiving has been the franchise’s most popular date to open on so one has to wonder why the change? Well, it may have something to do with the studio’s massive success of The Dark Knight, which opened on the same weekend in July that Half-Blood Prince is now poised to occupy next year. The previous film in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, also bowed on a similar date from July of last year. Three of the first four Potter films, though, launched on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

This major shake-up in the November release schedule may cause Sony Pictures to react with a move of their own. Quantum of Solace, the latest Bond film, is currently slated for release on November 7 of this year, but with Potter now vacating the November 21-23 frame, Agent 007 may fall back two weeks. The weekend before Thanksgiving is one of the most lucrative weekends to open a film on because that release also position’s such a blockbuster to have a strong second weekend at the box office since that is when the major holiday occurs. Casino Royale opened on that same weekend in 2006 and became the highest grossing Bond film in history. It also earned an impressive 4.1 multiplier (total divided by opening weekend).

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Box Office Data Sources: The Numbers and Box Office Mojo

‘Lethal Weapon 5’ In the Works

According to /film and trackingb.com, Lethal Weapon may have become the latest action franchise to be resurrected. Supposedly, a script by Shane Black has already been approved by producer Joel Silver. Franchise regular Richard Donner will direct and Mel Gibson and Danny Glover would reprise their lead roles in Lethal Weapon 5. No word yet if other regular cast members such as Joe Peschi, Rene Russo, Chris Rock, or Jet Li would return.

I say why not. Financially, it makes since. Several other once popular action franchises have been recently revived to commercial and sometimes even critical success. In the past couple of years, the Die Hard, Indiana Jones, Rocky, and Rambo franchises have each seen a very profitable new entry. In every case, the time between the most recent film and the one preceding it was at least ten years. 12 for Die Hard, 19 for Indy, 16 for Rocky, and 20 for Rambo. It’s been ten years since Lethal Weapon 4, and 5 will likely not be released until next year at the earliest.

Lethal Weapon 5 joins Beverly Hills Cop IV as popular cop franchises that got their start in that 80’s that are slated for release next year. Unlike the Eddie Murphy starring franchise, let’s hope that Donner is actually directing, and Warner Bros. doesn’t decide to hire Brett Ratner. WB would also be wise not to pull a Live Free or Die Hard stunt and lower it to ‘PG-13’.

Are Riggs and Murtaugh "too old for this shit?"

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

‘The Dark Knight’ Tops 4th Straight Weekend

There was no miraculous Saturday rise for Pineapple Express as the film was derailed by The Dark Knight. The overall box office plunged to its lowest weekend of the summer, and 2008 has now fallen behind the pace of last year’s record breaking summer.

For the first time since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King nearly five years ago, a film spent four straight weekends atop the charts. Falling only 39%, The Dark Knight cashed in an estimated $26 million from a still mega-wide 4,025 theaters. In just 24 days, Knight has become the highest grossing film of the decade, topping Shrek 2. With $441.5 million in the till, the Warner Bros. film has become the third highest grosser of all time. Number two on the list is Star Wars, which the Bat should take down in less than a week.

Pineapple Express is starting to run out of stash as the Seth Rogen led feature fell 2% on Saturday and is estimated to make out with $22.4 million from 3,072 theaters over the weekend. Thanks to an impressive $12.1 million Wednesday and $6 million Thursday, the five day start is much stronger at $40.5 million. Still, the film’s high is about to end with Tropic Thunder opening in just three days.

Opening in fourth place with decent results is Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. The female skewing sequel’s three day weekend of $10.8 million from 2,707 theaters is about the same as its predecessor when inflation adjusted, but the five day total of $19.7 million is considerably higher.

In third place, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor posted a much steeper second weekend drop than any of its predecessors with a 60% collapse. The threequel added $16.1 million and the total stands at a disappointing $70.7 million after 10 days, but at least the international numbers are strong because of the addition of martial arts star Jet Li to the cast.

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

‘The Dark Knight’ Reclaims Throne on Friday

On Friday, The Dark Knight fought its way back to the number one spot with $7.8 million, up 65% from Thursday’s $4.7 million. It’s 23 day total of $423,311,467 is a mere $4,345 behind Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest for sixth place on the all time domestic chart. For the weekend, Knight will likely scoop up $27 million, down only 37% from last week, which would be one of the largest fourth weekends on record. It will also be the first time in nearly five years that a film has topped the charts for four straight weeks. That’s an incredible feat considering how frontloaded the industry has become.

Meanwhile, Pineapple Express continued to lose steam after an impressive Wednesday and a solid Thursday. On Friday, the ‘R’-rated comedy fell to second place with $7.7 million, up just 29% from Thursday. Still, Express has made a decent $25.8 million in three days, and for the Friday-to-Sunday frame, a $22 million tally should result, lifting the five day haul to $40 million. However, the extreme frontloaded nature of this start puts its long-term prospects of hitting $100 million on ice, especially with Tropic Thunder looming.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 also posted a mediocre Friday after a strong Wednesday launch. After an opening day nearly three times that of the first Sisterhood, Sisterhood 2 managed only a $3.9 million Friday. That’s less than 10% above its predecessor’s first Friday, and once three years of inflation is factored in, the comparable day is actually slightly lower. The girl powered sequel has collected $12.8 million in three days and will hit $11 million for the three day period and $20 million in five days.

Unless there is a major turnaround on Saturday, this will be the lowest overall weekend at the box office so far this summer.

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers