'Tropic Thunder' Leads Quiet Summer Close
by Brandon Gray
September 2, 2008
|Ben Stiller in Tropic Thunder|
Tropic Thunder and The Dark Knight could only do so much. A weak slate of pictures in recent weeks caused Summer 2008 to end with a whimper over the four-day Labor Day weekend. It was the lowest attendance the holiday timeframe has seen in a decade.
Due to the lack of appealing new titles but not to significant staying power, Tropic Thunder claimed the top spot for the third weekend in a row. The Hollywood action spoof pulled in $14.6 million over the four-day weekend and has reaped a brawny $86.9 million in 20 days, out-drawing the similar Bowfinger through the same point.
The Dark Knight held strongly in its seventh weekend, making $11.1 million during the holiday weekend, and it hit another milestone in its phenomenal run, crossing the $500 million mark on its 45th day of release. As time progresses, IMAX becomes a larger factor as presentations in the format comprised 21 percent of the weekend gross versus eight percent of the overall gross.
Babylon A.D. logged an $11.5 million four-day start on approximately 3,600 screens at 3,390 sites. In its marketing, the Vin Diesel vehicle looked like just another futuristic chase picture and that's what it turned out to be, opening on par with Johnny Mnemonic and Ultraviolet among past disappointments in the mostly unpopular sub-genre.
Traitor fared the best among the meager new movies, with ads that were on point for an adult action thriller. The picture captured $10 million over the four-day weekend at 2,054 locations for an $11.5 million five-day tally, but it trailed the debuts of The Constant Gardener and Breach among other thrillers.
A trio of new comedies flopped. Disaster Movie eked out a $6.9 million four-day start at 2,642 theaters. Instead of lampooning disaster movies as its title declared, the picture's marketing relied on the flimsy Movie spoof franchise and presented random imitations of current movies, only without an anchor like Meet the Spartans' use of 300. Meanwhile, the generically-titled, ribald comedy College was ignored, grossing $2.6 million at 2,123 locations, and high school stage comedy Hamlet 2 floundered with $2.1 million in its expansion to 1,597 venues, plagued by an unfocused ad campaign that didn't fulfill the comic promise of the movie's title.
Beyond the new releases, movies in their second weekend contributed little to the box office pie, outside of The House Bunny. With appeal reminiscent of Legally Blonde, the sorority comedy has performed decently, gathering $10.2 million over the long weekend for $29.7 million in 11 days.
After a standard start for a Jason Statham vehicle, Death Race had a typical slowdown to $7.9 million four-day weekend for a soft $24.7 million in 11 days. One consolation is that the remake of the 1975 action thriller Death Race 2000 has sold more tickets than a similar remake of a 1975 action thriller: Rollerball.
The Longshots, which fumbled out of the gate with its nondescript title and football storyline, tumbled to $3 million for an $8.2 million 11-day tally, and it was no shocker that The Rocker played to mostly empty venues, mustering a mere $5.8 million in 11 days. Rock music and comedy rarely mix well commercially from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story to Airheads (School of Rock the one shining recent exception). What's worse, Rocker's advertising was not focused, alternating between the teen characters' antics and the arrested development premise of a forty-year-old playing with a high school band.
Among major nationwide releases, Mamma Mia! had the best hold, garnering $5.4 million and lifting its total to $132.5 million in 46 days. It's the biggest musical since Chicago, and a new sing-along version gave it a slight bump over the weekend. With 299 theaters or 16 percent of the total playdates, the sing-along comprised 20 percent of the weekend gross. Vicky Cristina Barcelona also held uncommonly well and its $13.3 million 18-day take already rates above average among Woody Allen pictures.
• 8/21/08 - 'Tropic Thunder' Rolls Into Top Spot
• 9/4/07 - 'Halloween' Severs Labor Day Record (Same Weekend, 2007)
• 9/5/06 - 'Illusionist' Impresses on Labor Day Weekend (Same Weekend, 2006)
• 9/6/05 - 'Transporter 2' Drives to Labor Day Record (Same Weekend, 2005)
• 4-day Weekend Box Office Results
• 3-day Weekend Box Office Results
• All Time Labor Day Openings
• All Time Grosses
• All Time Grosses - Adjusted for Inflation