‘Mamma Mia!’ Debuts Well in Second

<< ‘Dark Knight’ Crusades into Record Books

This past weekend was also the best overall weekend at the box office. Over $250 million was spent on all movies over the weekend. The Dark Knight contributed to most of that, but the counter programming options also performed very well. Mamma Mia! debuted to $27.8 million from 2,976 theaters over the weekend and nearly $45 million by the end of the week. Both numbers barely edge out last year’s Hairspray as the biggest musical debut ever. Hairspray enjoyed a very leggy run, finishing with $118.9 million giving it a strong 4.33 multiplier (total divided by opening weekend).

In third place, Hancock added another $14 million and fell 56% in its third weekend, which is a decent hold considering the level of competition. Will Smith’s latest Juggernaut has collected $198 million in 23 days and is poised to finish with about $220 million or so.

Journey to the Center of the Earth posted the best hold among all wide release holdovers dropping 41%. It has collected $43.5 million after two weekends and $50.7 million after two full weeks. A solid total north of $75 million should result and more significantly could convince more theaters to convert some of their screens into the 3D digital format.

In fifth place, Hellboy II: The Golden Army took a major hit from Batman crashing 71% with $10.1 million during its sophomore weekend. That is one of the worst second weekend declines by a number one film in history. The strong reviews can’t really explain it, but the level of competition certainly can. Universal, the film’s distributor, could have picked a less threatening release date, such as the second weekend of August, which currently only has comedies slated to open and then little direct competition the rest of the summer. The summer weekdays and the overall box office are still usually strong around that time. Still, the $60.9 million two week total is already higher than the first Hellboy‘s entire total.

Wall-E continued to drop at an unusually fast pace for a Pixar film. It dropped 46% with its $10.1 million fourth weekend tally. With $189 million after 4 full weeks, it has now fallen behind the pace of Cars, but is still about 10% ahead of Ratatouille at the same point in their runs. Wall-E is performing more like a date or science fiction movie rather than a family film. A $220 million total is likely for the animated robot giving it a decent 3.5 multiplier.

Space Chimps opened in seventh place to a weak $7.2 million and $11.5 million from 2,511 theaters representing one of the lowest debuts on record for a computer animated film. Wanted dropped 58% for $5.1 million and has gunned down $125.9 million after 4 weeks. A solid $135 million total should result with plans for a sequel already rumored.

In ninth place, Get Smart continues to perform well declining just 43% for a five week running total $121.9 million. Kung Fu Panda was the final film in the top ten with $1.9 million, falling a steep 58%, although it lost more than half of its screens this weekend. Its $207.9 million six week running tally is the highest from an animated film this year.

Outside of the top 10, Meet Dave has faded quickly with just $10.5 million after two full weeks. The Eddie Murphy comedy’s only consolation is that it will finish higher than the actor’s other major sci-fi flop from this decade, The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull continued to inch closer to Iron Man to become the highest grossing film of the year. However, The Dark Knight should easily pass up Iron Man before Indy does.

You Don’t Mess with the Zohan lost nearly three-quarters of its theaters this past weekend, falling out of wide release in the process, and has only collected $97.7 million to date. Unless there is a major push by Sony, the film’s studio, this will become Adam Sandler’s first major comedy in a decade to fail to cross $100 million.

This weekend, Step Brothers and The X-Files: I Want to Believe will try to take away some of the repeat business from The Dark Knight. Both releases combined will likely yield less than what the Caped Crusader will make out with in its second weekend.

Weekend Box Office for 7/18/2008
Dark Knight, The $158,411,483
Mamma Mia! $27,751,240
Hancock $14,040,178
Journey 3-D $12,340,435
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army $10,117,815
Source: The Numbers – Movie Box Office

Box office data source: The Numbers

‘The Dark Knight’ Crusades into Record Books

The Dark Knight has already broken an enormous number of records in just its first week. The Caped Crusader was already in the record books before the first showing when it was announced that it would launch in an unprecedented 4,366 theaters, breaking the previous high of 4,362 theaters set last May by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. That count is made even more impressive because of the large number of blockbusters still playing in many theaters.

The first Friday morning midnight showings started off with a bang, contributing $18.5 million, which beat Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith‘s record $16.9 million midnight bow from May 2005. Those huge midnight shows helped give The Dark Knight the biggest opening day and overall single day ever with $67.2 million, easily beating out Spider-Man 3‘s record breaking $59.8 million opening day set last May. The $67.2 million figure also became the biggest Friday ever recorded by a single film.

The Caped Crusader fell 29% on Saturday for a $47.7 million figure. This may seem steep at first glance, but subtracting the Thursday night midnight shows from Friday means that Saturday was essentially equal to Friday. That number was the 2nd best Saturday on record. Only Spider-Man 3 had a bigger Saturday.

The Dark Knight also tied the record for the fastest film to $100 million. It crossed that milestone in just 2 days, which was also the same amount of time it took Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. However, the tiebreaker edge goes to The Dark Knight since it had the highest total among the three films after two days.

The Batman Begins sequel set numerous more records on Sunday including the biggest Sunday ever with $43.6 million, topping Spidey 3‘s $39.9 million. Dark Knight fell just 9% on Sunday, which is an amazing hold for a non-holiday weekend Sunday. By comparison, Spidey 3, Dead Man’s Chest, and Revenge of the Sith fell 22%, 20%, and 16% respectively on their first Sundays.

During its opening weekend, The Dark Knight broke the most publicized of all records with its $158.4 million three day start, which narrowly edged out Spidey 3‘s previous benchmark of $151.1 million. What makes this number even more impressive is that it did it in July when the market is at its most crowded. The webslinger opened on the first weekend of May when there is much less competition. Knight had some direct competition from two other superhero films still in very wide release, Hancock and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The opening weekend also more than tripled Batman Begins’ $48.7 million launch.

The records kept coming for Batman during the week. The film collected $24.5 million on Monday for the best non-holiday that day has ever seen. $20.9 million more was added on Tuesday giving the film $203.8 million after just 5 days. The 5 days that it took Knight to reach $200 million crushed the old record of 8 days set by Spider-Man 2, Revenge of the Sith, and Dead Man’s Chest. On Wednesday, another $18.4 million was added, and I am projecting $16.3 million on Thursday for an opening week total of $238.5 million. That number easily beats the $196.1 million first week tally from Dead Man’s Chest, the current official record holder.

More records will continue to fall as the film continues its dominance in the marketplace. Records that The Dark Knight is basically guaranteed to crush are the biggest total after two and three weekends (and possibly even beyond that) and fastest to $300 million. There is also a solid shot of it becoming the fastest film to $400 million. The current record holder of that is Shrek 2, which crossed the milestone in just 43 days. Much harder but still a possibility is fastest to $500 million. The only film to ever gross more than $500 million in total is Titanic, crossing the half a billion mark in 98 days.

Knight also could post the biggest second weekend in history if it manages to beat out Shrek 2‘s $72.2 million number in its sophomore weekend. Knight would have to post a second weekend drop-off of 54% or less, which is reasonable but far from guaranteed. Shrek 2 only fell 33% during its second weekend but with the help of Memorial Day boosting Sunday evening shows.

Breaking records is nothing new to the Batman franchise. The first Batman from 1989, 1992’s Batman Returns, and 1995’s Batman Forever each broke the opening weekend record at the time of their releases. 1997’s Batman and Robin, however, nearly destroyed the franchise when it collapsed at the box office after its already sub-par opening weekend.

This made the path for 2005’s reboot, Batman Begins, a tough one, but the film had a long run in theaters and in the process nearly made twice as much as Batman and Robin did. Begins also gained millions more viewers through a very successful DVD and television run. Begins also hinted to the Joker making his return to the franchise just before the closing credits of the movie.

The Dark Knight ultimately had all the ingredients that a successful sequel should have. Most of the major protagonist characters returned, and only one of actors, Katie Holmes, was replaced, but the character stayed. Two Face and the Joker are the two most famous villains in the Batman universe, which alone would add significantly to the box office potential. The performances from the entire cast were nearly universally praised, especially the Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, who in my opinion deserves an Academy Award for best supporting actor. The reviews were among the best of the year with a 95% positive rating from the popular consensus review website, Rotten Tomatoes. That also ranks as the best reviewed comic book / superhero film on record. More>>

Box office data source: The Numbers