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Record Number of Records?

July 22nd, 2008


It is always better to underestimate demand and be pleasantly surprised, but The Dark Knight beat practically all expectations. It is such a huge hit that its weekend haul was better than the industry as a whole managed last weekend, and more than the industry made the same weekend last year. In fact, the $254 million weekend haul was a biggest all time. Needless to say, there was substantial growth this past weekend and the overall box office was up 68% from last weekend and 64% from the same weekend last year. Meanwhile, 2008 is still behind 2007 $5.37 billion to $5.41 billion, but that lead won't last.

Where to begin?

The Dark Knight broke records over the weekend. Lots of them. So many, it might be hard to keep track of them all, but let's start at the beginning.

  1. The film opened in 4,366 theaters, which is the widest opening ever breaking At World's End's previous record.
  2. 3,040 theaters held midnight showings where the film earned $18.49 million, breaking Revenge of the Sith's record.
  3. In total on Friday, the film made $67.17 million, setting the opening day record by topping Spider-man 3, as well as...
  4. Biggest single day, and...
  5. Biggest Friday.
  6. It tied the record for fastest to $100 million at just two days.
  7. On Sunday it made $43.60 million, which was the biggest Sunday ever (also beating Spider-man 3) and...
  8. The biggest third day of release.
  9. Over the weekend, it made $158.41 which is the new record for biggest weekend.
  10. Its per theater average of $36,283 was the largest per theater average for any wide release, topping Spider-man 3. (However, it lost out to Miley Cyrus for best per theater average for a number one film.)
And that's not counting a lot of records that are narrower in focus (Biggest Opening Weekend, Biggest Weekend in July, Biggest Day in July, etc.), as well as numerous IMAX records, which we will get to shortly.

(Strangely, despite having the best Friday and the best Sunday, the film didn't have the best Saturday as Spider-man 3 maintained that record.)

Where does it go from here? Well, even weak legs won't prevent The Dark Knight from reaching $300 million domestically and given the film's reviews and internal multiplier, it should be able to reach $400 million in the end. Pie in the sky where could it go? I'm not sure. Perhaps $500 million. We will have to see how it holds up next weekend.

As for the rest of the weekend, it seems almost pointless to talk about after The Dark Knight, but here it goes.

Mamma Mia! matched expectations nearly perfectly, opening with $27.75 million. This is a very strong start, especially for a film that is unlikely to suffer from the Fanboy Effect. Granted, relatively soft reviews will likely prevent the film from reaching $100 million domestically, but $200 million worldwide is not out of the question. Heck, if it can continue its torrid early pace, it will be likely. $300 million worldwide for a film that cost just over $50 million to make would be a huge, huge hit and would earn the studio a bundle. Perhaps there will be more musicals based on 70s super groups made. May I suggest Rush?

Likewise, Hancock ended up within a rounding error of Thursday's predictions with $14.04 million. After 17 days the film now has $191.54 million and will become Will Smith's fourth $200 million hit on Friday.

Journey to the Center of the Earth beat expectations, earning $12.34 million over the weekend for a total of $43.50 million after two. It is hard to imagine this film will get to $100 million domestically, but it should make enough to be considered a midlevel hit.

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army was not able to match expectations as direct competition and the Fanboy Effect proved tougher foes than expected. The film fell more than 70% to $10.12 million over the weekend and barely beat WALL-E. Meanwhile, its its total climbed to $56.5 million after 10-days, which is close to what the original made in total. This is not the worst sophomore stint drop-off for a number one film; that mark goes to Passion of the Christ's post Easter weekend. It's not even the worst sophomore sting drop-off for a number one opener, as that record it held by Doom. But this is not good either. With great reviews, one can chalk this up to the Fanboy Effect, which bodes very well for the film's chances on the home market. But domestically, $75 million might be out of reach.

The final wide release of the week was Space Chimps, which matched expectations nearly perfectly. Sadly, expectations were low and the film only brought in $7.18 million over the past three days. Mediocre reviews and direct competition are to blame here, as is a soft advertising campaign. It might not collapse next weekend at the box office, but I don't expect it to have much in the way of legs either.

Moving onto the sophomore class, there was just one resident: Meet Dave. That film fell more than 68% to $1.66 million for a 10-day total of $9.40 million. With a per theater average of just $551, I can't imagine a lot of theater owners will be willing to keep the movie for much longer and it could break records for largest theater count drop-off this Friday.


Filed under: The Dark Knight, Hancock, Mamma Mia!, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Space Chimps, Meet Dave