'Tropic Thunder' Rolls Into Top Spot

by Brandon Gray
Ben Stiller and Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder
August 21, 2008

The Dark Knight's reign atop the current box office charts ended this week, but it was by no means a sign of weakness for the super blockbuster. It was merely a function of age as the picture was in its fifth week and the high profile Tropic Thunder entered the fray. While the latter was solid, the new movies as a whole were modest, leading to another down week compared to last year.

Over the weekend, Tropic Thunder muscled in with $25.8 million on approximately 4,500 screens at 3,319 locations and its first full week came to $44 million. The Hollywood and war action movie spoof, which distributor Paramount Pictures / DreamWorks Studios claimed cost over $90 million to make, had higher initial attendance than the similar Bowfinger from August 1999 and its opening was on par with Starsky and Hutch. DreamWorks' research indicated that 57 percent of the audience was male and 67 percent was over 25 years old.

Descending 37 percent over the weekend to $16.4 million, The Dark Knight became the second-highest grossing picture of all time, soaring past Star Wars' $461 million, and its fifth weekend out-grossed the first weekend of the new Star Wars movie, The Clone Wars. Factoring attendance, though, Dark Knight is far behind the first Star Wars' 1977 release and it presently reside just below Home Alone at No. 36 on the all time adjusted for ticket price inflation chart. IMAX continued to buoy the Batman sequel as the format contributed an estimated $2.5 million to the weekend gross, down 22 percent, and it accounts for nearly eight percent of the overall total.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars waged $14.6 million over the weekend on around 4,100 screens at 3,452 sites and its first full week was significantly lower than Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within among computer-animated action movies. Science fiction, fantasy and action tend to be tough sells in the animated realm, and, billed as an untold story from the prequel trilogy, Clone Wars riffed off of the least popular live-action Star Wars movie theatrically, Attack of the Clones. With the rise of Darth Vader already completed in the last movie, dipping back into the prequel well had little allure dramatically. Distributor Warner Bros.' exit polling suggested that children under 12 and their parents comprised 66 percent of the audience.

Also opening was the latest Asian horror remake, Mirrors, which had an average start for its type, collecting $11.2 million over the weekend on 2,800 screens at 2,664 theaters. Distributor 20th Century Fox reported that the audience was 56 percent female and 60 percent under 25.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona seduced few with a $3.8 million opening weekend at 692 venues. A few weeks after the launch of Space Chimps, more computer-animated critters became astronauts with Fly Me to the Moon - 3D and the result was even more anemic, a $1.9 million weekend at 452 theaters. Comedy Henry Poole Is Here was worse with a mere $805,219 at 527 sites.

Mamma Mia! had the best hold among nationwide releases, easing 26 percent over the weekend to $6.1 million for $116 million in one month. The musical continued to outpace Hairspray from last summer and will soon eclipse that hit picture's $118.9 million final take. Also holding well was Journey to the Center of the Earth, which has been enhanced by its 3-D presentations. The family adventure's sixth weekend was $3.1 million, three quarters of which coming from 3-D showings. All told, nearly two thirds of its $88 million haul is from 3-D.

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New MPAA Ratings Added
DAILY: Monday, 12/10 (39 tracked)
WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'Ralph 2' #1
WEEKLY: 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' Tops the Week with $31.1m
DAILY: Thursday 12/6, (44 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 12/5 (37 tracked)
DAILY: Tuesday, 12/04 (35 tracked)