‘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

‘Pineapple Express’ Loses Steam on Thursday

Pineapple Express couldn’t maintain its high from Wednesday. On Thursday, it fell a disturbing 50% for a $6 million daily gross. In two days, the stoner comedy has chugged $18.1 million worth of box office. This lower than expected Thursday leaves the door open for a possible repeat performance at the top this weekend from The Dark Knight. The Bat added another $4.7 million on Thursday, which brings the running tally up to $415.5 million. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest will likely fall one place on the all time chart on Friday when the Caped Crusader flies past it.

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

‘Pineapple Express’ $12M Wednesday, ‘Sisterhood’ $5.7M

Both of the new openers showed some box office muscle on Wednesday, their opening days. On Wednesday, Pineapple Express launched to an impressive $12.1 million from 3,072 theaters. This means that the stoner comedy now has a clear path to the number one spot through the entire weekend. Thursday will likely add an additional $8 million. The Friday-to-Sunday period should yield about $38 million for a massive five day opening of $58 million. This will be the largest debut ever for an ‘R’-rated Apatow comedy and one of the largest starts ever for any ‘R’-rated comedy.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 wasn’t too shabby itself. The girl-powered feature opened to a great $5.7 million on Wednesday. That’s nearly triple the opening day take from the first Sisterhood, which also opened on a Wednesday in 2005. Sisterhood 2 will likely drop to just under $4 million on Thursday and then $16 million over the weekend for a solid five day amount of $25 million, more than 80% higher than the first five days from its predecessor.

Strong debuts from the two new films pushed The Dark Knight into third place, but the film only fell 10% from Tuesday. The $5.1 million Wednesday take ups the Bat’s total to $410.8 million. It will reclaim the number two spot on Thursday, but it won’t be able to catch the Pineapple Express over the weekend. Still, Knight is on target to add an additional $28-$30 million over the weekend.

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Box Office Data Source: The Numbers

‘Pineapple Express’ to Smoke Up The Box Office

This week, the two new openers, Pineapple Express and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, have chosen to get a jump start by opening on Wednesday. While both are comedies, they are targeting different genders so both have an opportunity to thrive.

The Judd Apatow brand of humor has been growing in popularity ever since The 40 Year Old Virgin hit it big back in August 2005. Since Virgin, the films that Apatow have been involved in (directing or producing) have, for the most part, become big hits at the box office. His films have helped some actors ascend to A-list status, such as Steve Carell. Carell headlined the star filled cast of Get Smart to strong results earlier this summer. Sony Pictures is hoping that last summer’s hits, Knocked Up and Superbad, have done the same thing to Seth Rogen whose name is above the title for the first time in Pineapple Express. This film is a real test for Rogen to see how much box office muscle he actually has. The ‘R’ rating will not hurt Express because this is what the audience has come to expect from an Apatow film. ‘R’ rated films have actually performed very well at the box office this summer, especially compared to recent years.

Tuesday midnight showings performed well and even exceeded Superbad. The high school set comedy opened on a Friday and posted the largest R-rated debut last summer with $33.1 million. For Express, look for $9 million on Wednesday (including Tues. midnights), $6 million on Thursday, and $29 million over the weekend for a strong five day start of $44 million. Even with Tropic Thunder debuting next Wednesday, the stoner action comedy could still ultimately smoke up 100 million greenbacks by the end of its run.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is hoping to build on its predecessor’s decent box office run from 2005. The first Sisterhood also opened on a Wednesday to a 5 day start of $13.6 million and finished with nearly $40 million. In the three years since, the film has gained some new followers on DVD, and two of actresses, America Ferrera and Blake Lively, have gained exposure from being the stars of their respective hit television shows, Ferrera in “Ugly Betty” and Lively in “Gossip Girl”.

Female led films have hit it big this summer with Sex and the City and What Happens in Vegas getting ready to conclude with strong totals of $155 million and $80 million, respectively. Mamma Mia! is still very much a contender in its fourth week of its strong box office run, but there should be enough room for both films to thrive this weekend, even with overlapping target audiences. The estrogen fueled Sisterhood 2 should make out with $12 million over the weekend and an $18 million five day start.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

Even in its fourth weekend, The Dark Knight stands a chance of repeating again as box office champion. Pineapple Express will take away some of the repeat business from the 17 to 30 age group, but this blockbuster is playing to an extremely wide and diverse audience. Older moviegoers who are curious to see what the buzz is all about will not be distracted by anything else opening at multiplexes this weekend. Instead, Knight’s biggest competition will come from the start of the Summer Olympics, which tends to skew older in the television ratings. Still, Knight is not losing many screens this weekend. I’m going to make a pretty bold statement in predicting that the Batman will edge out Express with $30 million this weekend representing only a 30% drop from last week. That amount will also be enough to post the largest fourth weekend take in history. The total will soar to a massive $445 million, enough to dethrone Shrek 2 to become the top grossing film of the decade.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor has not been performing very well during the week. On Monday, it posted the largest drop among all wide releases and then again on Tuesday. There isn’t much in the way of overlap from the two new openers, which should help soften the blow. Look for a 58% drop to $17 million and a $71 million 10 day running total.

Predictions for the weekend of August 8-10, 2008:

  1. The Dark Knight – $30 million, -30%
  2. Pineapple Express – $28.8 million, NEW
  3. The Mummy 3 – $16.9 million, -58%
  4. The Sisterhood 2 – $12.4 million, NEW
  5. Step Brothers – $7.8 million, -53%
  6. Mamma Mia! – $7.3 million, -42%
  7. Journey to the Center of the Earth – $5.2 million, -22%
  8. Wall-E – $3.6 million, -22%
  9. Swing Vote – $3.5 million, -44%
  10. Hancock – $3.2 million, -37%

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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