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Sunday, July 27, 2008

'The Dark Knight' remains unstoppable with record $75.6m sophomore frame, July 25-27, 2008

Warner Bros.' The Dark Knight toppled several more records in its incredible run, posting the biggest second-weekend in box office history with an estimated $75.6 million. In ten days the $185m budgeted superhero sequel has grossed a jaw-dropping $314.2 million, shattering the record for fastest film to $300 million. Despite the entrance of two relatively large newcomers, Will Ferrell's Step Brothers and the sci-fi sequel The X-Files: I Want to Believe, moviegoers couldn't get enough of the Caped Crusader, adding a remarkable $80 million from Monday thru Thursday and falling just 52% from its record destroying opening weekend to $75.6 million. That beats the four-year-old record set by 2004's Shrek 2 which raked in $72.2 million in its second week of release.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight saw its cume hit $314.2 million in just ten days of release, shattering previous record holder Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which took in $258.4 million over its first ten days and needed 16 days to break the $300 million mark.

The Dark Knight has now surpassed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull's $313.6 million as the second highest grossing film of 2008, and is just a hair behind Iron Man's $314.9 million for first overall. Those two films required 10 and 13 weeks respectively to reach a total Dark Knight needed just 10 days to reach. Word of mouth appears to be very strong for the Christian Bale starrer, with the 52% dip proving much better than Spider-Man 3's 62% dive after its sophomore frame.

With most of the summer's big releases out of the way (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is pretty much all that's left opening on August 1st), it's now quite conceivable that The Dark Knight could become just the second film in history to reach $500 million domestic (1997's Titanic raked in a colossal $600 million in North America and $1.8 billion worldwide). At its current pace the film should surpass $400 million by next weekend, which would easily shatter the record for fastest film to that mark, set by 2004's Shrek 2 at 43 days.

Internationally, The Dark Knight took in $65.6 million over the weekend, pushing its overseas total to $126.3 million. The U.K. alone raked in $22.3 million over the weekend, with many more markets still on the horizon. The film has now grossed $440.5 million worldwide, and should easily surpass $1 billion globally by the end of its run.

Finishing a distant second with $30 million was Sony's Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly comedy Step Brothers, which averaged a strong $9,696 from 3,094 theaters. Budgeted at $65 million, the film was the fourth biggest opening of Ferrell's career, behind only Talladega Nights with $47m, Blades of Glory with $33m, and Elf with $31.1m.

Despite a critical thrashing, Universal's hit musical Mamma Mia! held well in its sophomore frame, falling just 36% to $17.9 million in third. Starring Meryl Streep, the $52m budgeted adaptation has now grossed $62.7 million in ten days, continuing to perform well with female moviegoers. Look for Mamma Mia! to put up similar numbers to last summer's sleeper hit musical Hairspray, which took in $118.8 million domestic and $200 million worldwide.

Lack of marketing, poor reviews and a huge delay in release dates with its predecessor all doomed Fox's sci-fi thriller The X-Files: I Want to Believe, which debuted with a disappointing $10.2 million in 3,185 theaters for a poor $3,203 average. The opening was just a third of the $30.1 million bow of its predecessor, 1998's The X-Files. Released in the prime of the popular sci-fi tv series, The X-Files went on to gross $83.9 million domestic and $189.1 million worldwide. Budgeted at a modest $30 million, look for The X-Files: I Want to Believe to fall short of break-even domestic.

New Line's surprise 3D hit adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth fell a top ten best 24% to $9.4 million in its third frame, pushing its cume to an impressive $60.2 million. Budgeted at $60 million, look for the film to finish with a profitable $75-80 million domestic.

Despite The Dark Knight's record breaking sophomore frame, the top ten films finished virtually tied with last year's comparable frame, when The Simpsons Movie topped with $74 million. It was up 56% from 2006 when Michael Mann's Miami Vice was tops with $25.7 million.

The numbers, July 25-27, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 The Dark Knight $75,630,000 4,366 $17,322 $314,245,000 -52.3 2 Warner Bros.
2 Step Brothers $30,000,000 3,094 $9,696 $30,000,000 -- 1 Sony
3 Mamma Mia! $17,865,000 2,990 $5,975 $62,714,000 -35.6 2 Universal
4 The X-Files: I Want to Believe $10,200,000 3,185 $3,203 $10,200,000 -- 1 Fox
5 Journey to the Center of the Earth $9,415,000 2,688 $3,503 $60,185,000 -23.7 3 New Line
6 Hancock $8,200,000 3,309 $2,478 $206,371,000 -41.6 4 Sony
7 WALL•E $6,349,000 3,044 $2,086 $195,235,000 -37.0 5 Buena Vista
8 Hellboy II: The Golden Army $4,934,000 3,018 $1,635 $65,894,000 -51.2 3 Universal
9 Space Chimps $4,375,000 2,538 $1,724 $16,006,000 -39.1 2 Fox
10 Wanted $2,727,000 1,754 $1,555 $128,616,000 -46.2 5 Universal

Sunday, July 20, 2008

'The Dark Knight' swoops to biggest opening in history, July 18-20, 2008

Mid-July isn't supposed to be a particularly good time for box office records, with eight of the top ten best opening weekends of all-time occurring in the month of May. But thanks to a brilliant marketing campaign, stellar reviews and huge anticipation, Warner Bros.'s revival of its storied Batman franchise is now officially complete thanks to Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, which shattered all sorts of opening weekend records with a staggering $155.3m million bow.

You read that right, The Dark Knight hauled in $155.3 million in three days, averaging an eye-popping $35,579 (also a record) in 4,366 theaters, surpassing the monumental $151.1 million opening take of last year's Spider-Man 3. 2006's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is a distant third with a $135.6 million debut.

Budgeted at $180 million, Dark Knight set the stage for its record-breaking weekend with an $18.5 million Thursday midnight haul, which included shows starting at midnight Thursday onto 3am Friday morning. That number was the biggest Thursday night sneak total ever, surpassing 2005's Star Wars Episode III with $16.9 million. The Christian Bale-starrer then blew the doors open with $51 million for the rest of Friday, bringing its total Friday haul to a record $67.9 million. Sony's Spider-Man 3 had held the record with a $59.8 million first-day take. Sales fell a rather large but understandable 29% to $48 million on Saturday, with Warner estimating Sunday's take at $39.5 million. The film also featured six action sequences utilizing IMAX cameras, a fact that help bring in a record $6.2 million in 94 IMAX venues nationwide, averaging a whopping $66,0000 per theater.

The debut of The Dark Knight came within $50 million of surpassing its predecessor Batman Begins' entire $205.3 million domestic take. But that Nolan-directed pic singlehandedly revived a Batman franchise that had been dead in the water after 1997's flop Batman and Robin. In director Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Prestige) and star Christian Bale, Warner landed a combination that brought a darker and more realistic tone to the superhero saga, something that had been completely missing from Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. Those two films grossed $184 million and $107 million respectively.

Starring the late Heath Ledger as The Joker, it's arguable if his unexpected death in the beginning of 2008 brought in many more ticket buyers than normally would have attended this weekend, but it did bring a huge amount of awareness for the film. It is the actor's stirring performance as the chief villain that may wind up being the film's most memorable achievement. With word of mouth expected to be very strong (something last year's Spider-Man 3 desperately lacked), look for The Dark Knight to surpass $400 million domestic.

Internationally, Warner released The Dark Knight semi-globally, debuting the film in just 20 markets for a $40 million bow. Big markets like the U.K. will release the film later this month.

Led by a massive infusion of Batman cash as well as a solid opening from Mamma Mia!, the top ten films posted a jaw-dropping $255 million in sales, making it easily the biggest weekend in history. The previous record had been 2006's July 4th frame with $218.4 million, when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest topped the box office with a then-record $135.6 million.

Opening in second place with a solid showing of its own was the Meryl Streep-led musical Mamma Mia! which bowed to an estimated $27.6M for Universal. The PG-13 film averaged a stellar $9,276 from 2,976 locations performing just like last summer's musical hit Hairspray which debuted to $27.5M this very weekend. Mamma, which also stars Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Christine Baranski, played to an audience of adult women with studio data showing that 75% of the crowd was female while 64% was over the age of 30.

It was aimed as an alternative to Dark Knight and the strategy worked like a charm. Streep's The Devil Wears Prada received the same treatment bowing to a similar $27.5M against Superman Returns two summers ago on its way to a sensational $124.7M domestic and $325M worldwide.

Despite mostly mixed reviews the stage musical adaptation Mamma Mia! opened strong in second with an estimated $27.6 million. Budgeted at $65 million, the Universal pic averaged $9,276 in 2,976 theaters, benefiting from some nice counterprogramming on the part of Universal. Starring Meryl Streep and Colin Firth, the film trended decidedly older female. Internationally, the film has been a major hit, pulling in $72.6 million in two weeks of release, bringing its global take to just over $100 million.

Falling an understandable 56% thanks to Mr. Bruce Wayne's dramatic entrance, Will Smith's Hancock fell to third with $14 million, bringing its 19 day take to a huge $191.5 million. At its current pace look for the film to finish with $225 million domestic. Internationally, the film is on fire with $253 million, bringing its global take to a massive $444 million.

The smallest drop in the top ten went to New Line's Journey to the Center of the Earth with a 43% dip to $11.9 million. In two weeks the well-reviewed Brendan Fraser starrer has grossed $43.1 million. Budgeted at $60 million, the PG-rated release should finish with $80 million domestic.

The award for "critics got this one wrong" went to last week's champ Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which tumbled a frightening 71% to an estimated $10 million this weekend. Though universally praised by critics, audiences have not been as eager to recommend the film. In ten days the $85 million budgeted sequel has grossed $56.4 million and looks very unlikely to break even on the domestic front.

The weekend's final debut was Fox's computer-animated Space Chimps in seventh with $7.3 million. Blasted by critics, the Canadian animation production averaged just $2,927 in 2,511 theaters. Look for a quick exit from the top ten for this animated sci-fi comedy.

The numbers, July 18-20, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 The Dark Knight $155,340,000 4,366 $35,579 $155,340,000 -- 1 Warner Bros.
2 Mamma Mia! $27,605,000 2,976 $9,276 $27,605,000 -- 1 Universal
3 Hancock $14,000,000 3,776 $3,708 $191,504,000 -56.4 3 Sony
4 Journey to the Center of the Earth $11,910,000 2,830 $4,208 $43,074,000 -43.3 2 New Line
5 Hellboy II: The Golden Army $10,038,000 3,212 $3,125 $56,447,000 -70.9 2 Universal
6 WALL•E $9,813,000 3,310 $2,965 $182,476,000 -47.8 4 Buena Vista
7 Space Chimps $7,350,000 2,511 $2,927 $7,350,000 -- 1 Fox
8 Wanted $5,097,000 2,433 $2,095 $123,347,000 -57.5 4 Universal
9 Get Smart $4,080,000 2,135 $1,911 $119,564,000 -43.3 5 Warner Bros.
10 Kung Fu Panda $1,750,000 1,505 $1,163 $206,506,000 -60.3 7 Paramount

Sunday, July 13, 2008

'Hellboy II' takes weekend with $35.8m, July 11-13, 2008

Yet another superhero took charge this weekend, but it appears most moviegoers are saving their hard-earned cash for next week's superhero juggernaut The Dark Knight, which appears primed for a record debut. The top ten films finished the weekend down 17% from last year's comparable frame, when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix bowed with $77.1 million. Leading the charge was Universal's Hellboy II: The Golden Army with $35.9 million, knocking off last week's superhero champ Hancock which fell 47% to $33 million. Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D finished a strong third with $20.5 million, while Eddie Murphy's Meet Dave stumbled into seventh with just $5.3 million.

Universal's Hellboy II got off to a strong start as the Guillermo del Toro-directed actioner seized $35.9 million over its opening weekend, debuting nearly $13 million higher than its 2004 predecessor Hellboy (released by rival studio Sony Pictures). Averaging an impressive $11,200 in 3,204 theaters the $85 million budgeted comic book adaptation earned strong reviews from critics with 88% of those polled by Rottentomatoes.com giving the film a positive recommendation. But given a 14% drop in ticket sales from Friday to Saturday, word of mouth from audiences might not be as strong. The original Hellboy earned $59 million domestic, a number Hellboy II should easily surpass this summer.

Last week's champ Hancock fell 47% in its sophomore frame, adding another $33 million to its total. In 12 days the Will Smith blockbuster has amassed $165 million, and could finish with $250 million domestic. Budgeted at $150 million Hancock has already grossed $180 million internationally for a worldwide take of $345 million.

Opening strong in third was Brendan Fraser's Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, which took in an estimated $20.6 million in its debut frame. Released by Warner Bros. and produced by New Line, the $60 million budgeted release averaged a solid $7,321 in 2,811 theaters. Released in both 3D-equipped theaters and traditional (non-3D) theaters, Journey earned roughly 80% of its revenue in 3D theaters (just 854 of its 2,811 theaters showed the film in 3D). Reviews were generally favorable for the film.

Pixar-Disney's animated hit Wall-e added another $18.5 million to its collection, falling 43% to fourth. In three weeks the film has amassed $162.7 million. The 43% drop was worse than last year's Ratatouille, which fell 38% to $18 million over its third frame. It was significantly worse than 2006's Cars, which slipped just 31% to $23.3 million. To make matters worse, Ratatouille's 38% drop came on a weekend that saw the debut of Harry Potter VI and the sophomore frame of Transformers, both massive blockbusters that dwarf this summer's Hancock and Hellboy II. Despite opening $16 million bigger than Ratatouille, Wall-e is clearly not experiencing as strong a legs as that Oscar winning feature. Look for this latest Pixar creation to finish with $215-220 million domestic.

It was all bad news for Eddie Murphy's latest comedy Meet Dave, as the $60 million budgeted pic debuted with just $5.3 million this weekend. Not helping matters was the critical beating the film took amongst critics, with just 22% of those polled by Rottentomatoes.com giving the film a recommendation rating. The film managed a pathetic $1,760 in 3,011 theaters.

Rounding out the top ten was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with $2.3 million, pushing its eight week cume to $310.5 million. The film is now just $3 million behind Paramount's own Iron Man as the highest grossing film of 2008 so far. Iron Man debuted in May with $98 million, eventually finishing with $313.4 million domestic.

Falling out of the top ten was Universal's The Incredible Hulk, which took in an estimated $2.2 million this weekend for a $129.8 million cume. The film is just barely ahead of where Ang Lee's Hulk was back in 2003. Budgeted at $150 million, look for The Incredible Hulk to finish with $135 million. Internationally, the film has grossed $101.3 million, bringing its worldwide take to $231 million.

The numbers, July 11-13, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Hellboy II: The Golden Army $35,885,000 3,204 $11,200 $35,885,000 -- 1 Universal
2 Hancock $33,000,000 3,965 $8,323 $165,034,000 -47.3 2 Sony
3 Journey to the Center of the Earth $20,580,000 2,811 $7,321 $20,580,000 -- 1 New Line
4 WALL•E $18,509,000 3,849 $4,809 $162,772,000 -43.1 3 Buena Vista
5 Wanted $11,586,000 3,157 $3,670 $112,045,000 -42.2 3 Universal
6 Get Smart $7,110,000 3,086 $2,304 $111,473,000 -36.0 4 Warner Bros.
7 Meet Dave $5,300,000 3,011 $1,760 $5,300,000 -- 1 Fox
8 Kung Fu Panda $4,300,000 2,704 $1,590 $202,043,000 -41.2 6 Paramount
9 Kit Kittredge: An American Girl $2,360,000 1,849 $1,276 $11,050,000 -28.4 4 Picturehouse
10 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull $2,250,000 1,664 $1,352 $310,477,000 -40.4 8 Paramount

Sunday, July 6, 2008

'Hancock' dominates July 4th weekend with $66m, July 4-6, 2008

July 4th once again belongs to Will Smith, as his big-budget superhero vehicle Hancock dominated the holiday frame with $66 million over the weekend and $107.3 million since its opening on Tuesday night. Pixar-Disney's Wall-e fell one spot to second with $33.4 million, going past the $100 million mark, while last week's sleeper hit Wanted dove 60% to $20.6 million.

Sony's $150 million summer gamble paid off handsomely, as their new IP Hancock rode squarely on the shoulders of its star Will Smith to a $107.3 million five-and-a-half day opening, the fourth biggest Independence Day opening frame in history. Only 2004's Spider-Man 2 with $180.1 million (over six days), 2007's Transformers with $155.4 million (over six days), and 2005's War of the Worlds with $112.7 million (also over six days) have opened with more.

Averaging a potent $16,646 from 3,965 theaters over the three-day weekend the Peter Berg-directed pic shrugged off very poor reviews from critics (those polled by Rottentomatoes.com gave the film a "rotten" 37% recommendation rating), relying exclusively on the star power of Will Smith to bring audiences into theaters over the holiday frame. Hancock was the star's eighth straight No. 1 opening, as well as his eighth consecutive film to break $100 million domestic.

Co-starring Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron, the PG-13 release became Smith's second biggest opening ever, surpassing 2004's I, Robot with a $52.17 million bow, and behind only last year's I Am Legend with $77 million.

July 4th came on a Friday this year, which meant a diminished sales number for Friday of $18.8 million. But the Sony release saw a 39% surge in sales on Saturday to $26.1 million, helping Hancock deliver its strong opening frame. Only time will tell whether word of mouth will carry the film throughout July, or if the hotly-anticipated The Dark Knight stamps it out forever in two weeks. Internationally, Hancock snapped up $78 million, bringing its global opening to $185.3 million.

Relinquishing its top spot was Pixar/Disney's computer-animated hit Wall-e, which fell 47% to an estimated $33.4 million over the three-day weekend. In ten days the critically-acclaimed G-rated sci-fi pic has amassed $128.1 million. Perhaps partly because July 4th fell on a Friday this year the robot pic fell a steep 47%, an unusually high number for a Pixar release. Last year's Ratatouille opened at the same time as Wall-e, falling just 38% over the July 4th weekend to $29 million.

At this point it looks highly unlikely that the Andrew Stanton-directed pic will have the kind of word-of-mouth to make a run at $300 million. Still, Wall-e's mid-week totals have been strong, and the film is running 9% ahead of DreamWorks Animation's hit Kung Fu Panda over the same ten-day frame. Look for the $180 million budgeted release to reach $240-245 million domestic by the end of its summer run.

Universal's surprise smash Wanted took a huge 60% dive in its sophomore frame thanks to Will Smith hogging the marquees this weekend, earning $20.6 million over the three-day frame. In ten days, the film has amassed $90.8 million, already vaulting the $75 million budgeted pic into profitability. Starring Angelina Jolie, the frenetic actioner should bullet towards $135 million domestic. Internationally Wanted continues to perform well, grossing $64.2 million total for a global cume of $155 million.

Falling 45% to fourth was Steve Carell's Get Smart, which took in $11.1 million this weekend. In three weeks the $80m Warner Bros. release has grossed $98.1 million.

Rounding out the top five was Paramount/DreamWorks Animation's animated hit Kung Fu Panda, which fell a slight 36% to $7.5 million this weekend. In five weeks the $130 million budgeted pic has grossed $193.3 million, vaulting past Toy Story's $191.7 million for No. 15 on the all-time animated feature list. Look for the Jack Black starrer to finish with $225 million domestic.

Debuting quietly in eighth was Abigail Breslin's kid pic Kit Kittredge: An American Girl which took in just $3.6 million over the weekend. Averaging just $1,954 in 1,843 theaters, the well-reviewed release failed to generate any buzz off its limited release sneaks two weeks ago. The Picturehouse release has grossed $6.1 million total.

Finally snapping its hot streak, the top ten films grossed an estimated $155.5 million, down 3% from last year's Independence Day frame when Transformers debuted with $70.5 million (July 4th fell on a Wednesday last year). However, it was still up 12% from 2006 when Superman Returns opened with $52.5 million.

The numbers, July 4-6, 2008

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Hancock $66,000,000 3,965 $16,646 $107,321,000 -- 1 Sony
2 WALL•E $33,417,000 3,992 $8,371 $128,132,000 -47.0 2 Buena Vista
3 Wanted $20,607,000 3,185 $6,470 $90,775,000 -59.5 2 Universal
4 Get Smart $11,125,000 3,574 $3,113 $98,115,000 -45.0 3 Warner Bros.
5 Kung Fu Panda $7,500,000 3,347 $2,241 $193,395,000 -35.9 5 Paramount
6 The Incredible Hulk $4,975,000 3,043 $1,635 $124,917,000 -48.1 4 Universal
7 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull $3,940,000 2,192 $1,797 $306,590,000 -23.9 7 Paramount
8 Kit Kittredge: An American Girl $3,600,000 1,843 $1,953 $6,134,000 -- 3 Picturehouse
9 Sex and the City $2,340,000 1,275 $1,835 $144,859,000 -38.6 6 New Line
10 You Don't Mess With the Zohan $2,000,000 1,731 $1,155 $94,780,000 -37.0 5 Sony