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Sunday, August 17, 2008

'Tropic Thunder' strikes down 'The Dark Knight' with $26m, August 15-17, 2008

After posting four of the most remarkable weekends in domestic box office history The Dark Knight finally relinquished its top spot to Ben Stiller and his Tropic Thunder, but not before claiming the No. 2 spot on the all-time domestic list and surging past the $800 million mark worldwide. George Lucas's Star Wars: The Clone Wars debuted in the third spot with $15.5 million, with three other newcomers sprinkled into the top 12.

Leading the pack was war comedy Tropic Thunder, which took home the gold with $26 million in its opening weekend. Since its debut on Wednesday the $92 million budgeted DreamWorks/Paramount release has grossed $37 million. Averaging a top ten best $7,834 in 3,319 theaters, the well-reviewed R-rated comedy saw a very impressive 17.1% increase in ticket sales, most likely indicating strong word of mouth. For Stiller, who both starred and directed Thunder, it was the actor's biggest debut ever as a director, surpassing the $19.8 million bow of 1996's The Cable Guy. It was also a rebound from last year's disappointment The Heartbreak Kid, which opened with just $14 million. The comedy will have to rely on very strong word of mouth if it hopes to break even domestic.

Slipping one notch to second was Warner's juggernaut The Dark Knight, which continued its record-smashing run with another $16.8 million this weekend, falling a slight 35.7%. In five amazing weeks the film has amassed $471.5 million, surpassing 1977's Star Wars for No. 2 on the list of all-time domestic list.

Internationally the Caped Crusader took in another strong $42.4 million, bringing its overseas total to $328.6 million. That gives the Christopher Nolan starrer a worldwide total of $800.1 million, surpassing the $780 million gross of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as the biggest global release of 2008. At its current pace look for The Dark Knight to finish with $525 million domestic and over $1 billion worldwide.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars, George Lucas's latest attempt at squeezing every last ounce of dignity from the Star Wars franchise, finished in third this weekend with an estimated $15.5 million, averaging $4,492 in 3,452 theaters. A 90 minute commercial for his upcoming October Cartoon Network series, Clone Wars was slammed by critics (just 19% of those polled by Rottentomatoes.com gave the film a recommendation rating). Produced at Lucas's Singapore animation studio, the film was largely criticized for is sub-par visuals and storytelling, and will most likely suffer a quick exit out of the top ten.

Fox's horror pic Mirrors debuted in fourth with $11.1 million, averaging $4,176 in 2,664 theaters. Starring Kiefer Sutherland, the film was likewise panned by critics.

Falling 57% to $10 million was Sony's stoner action flick Pineapple Express, pushing its 12 day cume to an impressive $62.9 million. Budgeted at $27 million, the R-rated release should finish with $85-90 million domestic.

Universal's action sequel The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor slipped 48% in its third weekend to $8.6 million, bringing its 17-day cume to $86.6 million. The film continues to perform much better internationally, adding $32.6 million this weekend and $196.6 million, bringing its worldwide haul to an impressive $283 million.

Rounding out the top ten was Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which bowed with $3.7 million. Averaging $5,361 in 692 theaters, the acclaimed pic stars Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson.

Finishing in twelfth was the opener Fly Me To The Moon, which launched in 452 3D theaters with $2 million, averaging $4,425 per theater. The Summit Entertainment release received poor reviews from critics.

Led by Tropic Thunder's $26m debut, the top ten films grossed an estimated $109.2 million, up 1% from last year's comparable frame when Superbad debuted with $33.1 million. It was up 26% from 2006 when Snakes on a Plane opened on top with $15.2 million.

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