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Bunnies Make Some Noise but Tropic Stays Hot

August 25th, 2008

Summer is winding down and the overall box office numbers show that quite clearly. Over the weekend, $106 million worth of tickets were sold, which is 15% lower than last weekend. On the other hand, it is a mere 1.3% lower than the same weekend last year, which continues the month-long slump. However, while 2008 is behind 2007's pace, it is by just 0.5% at $6.50 billion to $6.53 billion.

Tropic Thunder outperformed expectations by a significant margin, earning $16.27 million over the weekend for a running tally of $65.84 million after 12-days. At this pace, $100 million seems like a lock, which is good news for a film that cost $90 million to make. I don't expect it to match that total internationally, but I do expect it to show a profit by its initial run in the home market.

House Bunny also beat expectations, albeit by a tiny margin, earning $14.53 million. This is a strong opening for a late summer comedy. In fact, it earned the best per theater average in the top 20 and only a handful of films in total topped its average. As for the film's long term chances, its reviews remained the best out of the four wide releases this week, although, at just 42% positive, they are hardly a selling point. The film's legs will come from the appeal of Anna Faris, who is getting her first lead role outside of the Scary Movie franchise, and the backup of her ensemble cast of characters. At this point, $40 million is practically guaranteed, while $50 million isn't out of the question. Regardless where the film ends, given the film's start, it should show a profit by its initial push into the home market.

Death Race was not able to live up to expectations, placing third with $12.62 million over the weekend. This is in line with many Jason Statham vehicles and is above the opening of Crank, but not as strong as The Transporter 2. Add in reviews that are mixed, and it should still finish with $30 million, more or less. Again, this is better than Crank, but not as strong as The Transporter 2.

After pulling in $10.54 million over the weekend, The Dark Knight is about a week from becoming only the second film ever to reach $500 million domestically and less than a week away from becoming only the tenth film to reach $900 million worldwide.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars did not perform better than expected, but it still managed to hold onto a spot in the top five with $5.66 million and now has just a hair shy of $25.00 million after 10 days. Given the film's expected production budget, this is likely more than enough to show a profit for the studio, while it bodes well for the upcoming TV series.

The rest of the wide releases failed to make a serious impact at the box office. For instance, The Longshots opened in tenth place with $4.08 million in 2,089 theaters, which gives it a per theater average just below the Mendoza line. Add in reviews that are on the weak side and there's little reason to suspect the movie will have strong legs.

The Rocker performed even worse with a weekend total of $2.64 million in 2,784 theaters for a sub-$1,000 per theater average. On the one hand, Eddie Murphy might want to send a thank you card to Rainn Wilson for under-performing Meet Dave at the box office. On the other hand, with a total of $3.69 million, The Rocker will come reasonably close to its production budget theatrically, and with much better reviews, it could become a 'guilty pleasure' on the home market and eventually show a profit.

Moving onto the sophomore class, Mirrors fell 55% to $5.01 million over the weekend to give it $20.21 million after two. This is about as good as the film could expect given its reviews and its genre. Finally, Vicky Cristina Barcelona was just knocked out of the top ten, but was down less than 20% to $3.01 million on 692 screens and now has $8.57 million in total. This is already the fourth-best box office result for Woody Allen in the past decade, while it should have little trouble hitting $10 million early next weekend, if not sooner.

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Filed under: The Dark Knight, Tropic Thunder, The House Bunny, Death Race, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Mirrors, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Longshots, The Rocker