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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: more sweetness and light for ‘The Dark Knight’

Four weeks now at the top of the box office for The Dark Knight. Unbelievable. I’m willing to bet it makes it five next weekend. Here’s this weekend’s results:

1. The Dark Knight: $26 million
2. Pineapple Express: $22.4 million
3. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: $16.1 million (dropping 60% in its second week)
4. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2: $10.8 million
5. Step Brothers: $8.9 million
Dark Knight’s cumulative take — in North America alone — is now $441.5 million. I’ll let CNN.com fill in the rest:

The last movie to remain No. 1 for four consecutive weekends was “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in late 2003 and 2004, according to box-office tracker Media By Numbers. That movie did it during a much slower time of year, with nowhere near the competition “The Dark Knight” has faced during Hollywood’s busy summer season.

However, the numbers reflect today’s higher admission prices, and “The Dark Knight” will not approach “Star Wars” or “Titanic” in terms of actual number of tickets sold. Taking inflation into account, “The Dark Knight” would need to pull in about $900 million to match the number of tickets sold for “Titanic” and about $1.2 billion to equal “Star Wars.”

Still, there’s no reason to weep for Knight: its place in the record books is assured.

Actually, Knight could have lost the weekend: If Pineapple Express had opened on Friday, instead of Wednesday, it might have had a chance of overtaking Knight over the weekend. Counting Wednesday and Thursday, Pineapple has earned $40.5 million… but it looks like it exhausted a big chunk of its audience before the weekend even began. (Sisterhood, too, which also opened Wednesday, looks like it did a little better when its midweek ticket sales are counted: since Wednesday it’s taken in $19.7 million.)

In other milestones, Mamma Mia! (which cost $52 million to produce) passed the $100-million mark this weekend. Wall-E is now past $200 million, but it cost $180 million to make, and a ton more to market, so no one at Disney is celebrating too hard yet.

Other flicks are suffering in Knight’s wake: Mummy 3 cost $145 million, which is absurd, and so far has grossed less than $71 million — it’s unlikely to earn back its production budget. Hellboy II added only $1.3 million to its coffers this weekend, but that pushed it past $75 million… but since it cost $85 million, that’s not so great — it may just edge past its production budget, but when you add in what it cost to market, it’ll probably end up in the red. And the current X-Files flick, which earned only $1.2 million this weekend, still hasn’t hit $20 million, and will have a heck of a time reaching its price tag of $30 million.

When it comes to per-screen averages, though, the story is the same as always. The drama Elegy had the best numbers, by far, by this measure: $17,000 on each of its six screens. The next closest, neck-and-neck, are the documentary Patti Smith: Dream of Life, which took in $8,080 on its one screen, and the drama Frozen River, with a per-screen of $8,071 on each of seven screens. After that are Pineapple ($7,291 at each of 3,072 venues), Knight ($6,467 at each of 4,025 venues), and Bottle Shock ($6,145 on each of 48 screens).

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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