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Olympic-Sized Box Office Haul

August 11th, 2008

Four. The Dark Knight has reigned on top of the box office charts for four weekends now. The last film to last on top so long was Return of the King, which opened more than four years ago. That said, while The Dark Knight is dominating, the new releases are not pulling their weight and the overall box office slipped to $120 million over the weekend, which was 21% lower than last weekend, and 22% lower than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2008 has earned $6.14 billion, which is lower than 2007's pace but by less than 1%, as this time last year movies had earned $6.17 billion at the box office.

The Dark Knight topped Wednesday's prediction by a narrow margin with $26.12 million over the weekend for a total of $441.63 million after two. This is an amazing number and an excellent hold from last weekend, but we are starting to see the film taper off. For instance, for the first time in the film's run is was lower than Titanic's weekend numbers during the same point in its run, and Titanic didn't peak until week five. This makes $600 million and the All Time Record out of reach (without a re-release). However, it is already third on that chart and could reach second place by this time next week. $500 million should be its final major milestone.

On the one hand, The Pineapple Express had a record-breaking run, earning the best opening Wednesday for an August release with $12.09 million. (The Princess Diaries 2 had the previous record.) However, it did not hold up very well as the weekend wore on. Despite earning almost as much during its opening day as I expected it would earn in two, its five-day total of $41.32 million was a tiny fraction below expectations and its three-day total of $23.25 million was well below expectations. There are some positive signs, including good reviews and a Sunday drop-off that is negligible. These two sets of data offer a conflicting portent on the film's future, but if the latter takes hold, then $100 million in total is not out of the question. However, I would wait a least a week before making any firm predictions on that front.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor barely lived up to the low end of expectations, earning $16.49 million over the weekend. That said, it is tracking to reach $100 million by the end of its theatrical run, but it could be close.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 opened well over the weekend, especially compared to the original. On Wednesday the film made $5.73 million, while it made $10.68 million over the weekend and $19.62 million in total. There are some reasons to be concerned. For instance, this film earned nearly 170% more than the first did on opening night, but practically every day after that it showed much weaker traction and by Sunday it was just 24% ahead of Sisterhood's pace. After five days, the sequel does have a $6 million lead, but I don't know if that will be enough to keep it ahead of its predecessor throughout its run.

Step Brothers was able to squeeze out a victory for fifth place over Mamma Mia!, $9.13 million to $8.21 million. For the latter, this was more than enough to reach the $100 million mark, making it the 13th film of the year to get that far. Meanwhile, Step Brothers should get there as well, but it will take quite a bit longer.

Moving onto the sophomore class, Swing Vote was the only one not to reach the top five, which is not surprising since it missed the top five during its opening. This past weekend it saw its weekend haul sliced nearly perfectly in half to $3.13 million, and it now has $12.02 million after 10 days. The film could reach $20 million in total, but that's not likely, nor is it enough to be considered a financial success.

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Filed under: The Dark Knight, Mamma Mia!, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Step Brothers, The Pineapple Express, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Swing Vote