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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: the Dark Knight is still flying high

It’ll be the work of pop-culture watchers like me to try to figure out, over the next few weeks and months, exactly what it is about The Dark Knight that is striking such a chord with audiences. Yes, ticket prices are up, which is contributing to its seeming license to print money, but still: the speed with which it is racking up these extraordinary numbers is unprecedented. It makes the fact that it’s still at the top of the roster for a third week in a row seem like relatively small stuff:

1. The Dark Knight: $43.8 million
2. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: $42.4 million
3. Step Brothers: $16.3 million (dropping 47% in its second week)
4. Mamma Mia!: $13.1 million
5. Journey to the Center of the Earth: $6.9 million
Dark Knight’s total right now stands at almost $395 million — that’s domestically, in North America, and not counting the more than $200 million it’s earned overseas so far — and it will hit $400 million today or tomorrow. It took Shrek 2 43 days to do that; Dark Knight will do it in 18 or 19. In the ranking of all-time box-office moneymakers, Dark Knight is currently at No. 8; it’ll pass No. 7, Spider-Man, in the next few days, and in fact, it seems impossible that it won’t surpass the No. 2 film, Star Wars, which has earned $461 million… and that’s counting all its many rereleases. Dark Knight will do that in just a few months, at most.

In lesser box-office news, Swing Vote debuted at No. 6 with a lousy $6.3 million. But that looks good next to Midnight Meat Train, which took in a pathetic $32,000 on 102 screens; that’s a per-screen average of $313. We’ve been debating here whether Lionsgate was trying to bury it — let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were, and succeeded.

The best per-screen of the weekend went to The Mummy, at $11,289. The indie Frozen River was second, at $10,471 (though it was on only seven screens), with Dark Knight a close third, at $10,267.

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  • bendz

    I would bet that Midnight Meat train would have been very well recieved if LionsGate new head Joe Drake was not a selfish little child and treated the ex heads films with some respect. and you guys have the nerve to bash this film like that. All of Joe Drakes releases should be boycotted after this shameless act of ruining peoples hard work.

  • MaryAnn

    Who’s bashing what?

  • y

    Dark Knight, has the quality of being viewable many times and getting something more out of it with each viewing. So much happens you want to see it a second time to ‘enjoy the little moments’ and each time you notice something more. I think that is helping to keep it up at the top. Most summer offerings do not have this quality. Most offerings in general don’t leave you with the sense of wanting to see it again right afterwards. I’ve seen it 3 times and plan to see it a 4th and it gets better each time. But that’s just a part of it I’m sure.

  • darvy

    midnight meat train was only released in discount theaters ($1.50-2.00), according to reports. that’s definitely true in my town. it would account for its low box office take.

    and bendz, why is releasing the film like this worse than just pushing it straight to DVD, as would have been much easier and cheaper to do? at least those who are interested can still see it in a theater.

  • The reason why The Dark Knight, as good as it is, will not pass Titanic is simple: It doesn’t appeal to as wide an audience, and while it is getting some repeat viewers (I’ve seen it twice already), it’s not getting repeat viewers the way Titanic did.

    Don’t forget, Titanic was #1 at the box office for something like 13 straight weeks back in 1997-1998. The Dark Knight has been #1 for three weeks in a row and while it could stay #1 through August, it will have to go up against Tropic Thunder in a couple of weeks.

    The Dark Knight is a 400-meter runner; Titanic was a marathoner.

  • bendz

    I would suspect maybe because of contracts with the director they cann’t just push the movie to DVD. Plus apparently Clive Barker him self has been all over Joe Drake lionsgate to have this picture released properly. as is stated on his website.

  • y

    clayj: I would say that Titanic was more of a pure anomaly. I thought people would never shut up about it and that song was on the radio nonstop. So yeah, Dark Knight will have a great run, but there’s nothing to sing along to on the radio (for the people who like Celine Dion).

  • Shadowen

    I think TDK will be out of the #1 spot within two weeks. It has shown remarkable legs for a big opener, though; I imagine it’ll remain in the top five for at least another month after that, and I would not be surprised if it eventually cracked 500 million domestic even before the cheap theaters got it. I’ve seen it twice, and I’m planning to see it at least twice more: once with my sisters and once in Imax (which is another reason for the bonus).

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