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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: ‘Tropic Thunder’ thumps the House Bunny

I’d love to think that the fact that Tropic Thunder beat out two other movies that could be seen as emblematic of the kind of Hollywood nonsense writer-director-star Ben Stiller is satirizing is a hint of the beginning of a swing in what audiences want to see, but I suspect that’s ridiculously optimistic. Still, the numbers are enough to give one a tiny bit of hope:

1. Tropic Thunder: $16.1 million (dropping 38% in its second week)
2. The House Bunny: $15.1 million
3. Death Race: $12.3 million
4. The Dark Knight: $10.3 million
5. Star Wars: The Clone Wars: $5.6 million (dropping 61% in its second week)
A drop of only 38 percent for Thunder indicates excellent word of mouth and some repeat business. Which means people really like the flick. That’s gotta be a good thing.

Overall, though, the weekend’s box office takings were low, which is about par for the course for the end of August, when everyone’s ready for summer to be over and thinking about getting back to school or knuckling down again at work. The best per-screen average of the weekend was The House Bunny’s $5,563 (at 2,714 venues), with a range of other indies and studio films close behind:

Elegy: $5,456 (92 screens)
Death Race: $4,855 (2,532 venues)
Thunder: $4,803 (3,352 venues)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona: $4,339 (692 screens)
Hamlet 2: $4,223 (103 screens)

All of which means not too many people went to the movies at all, at least compared to weekends earlier in the summer.

Dark Knight update: The cumulative take of the Batman film is now a little over $489 million (that’s North America only, mind), which puts it smack in the No. 2 spot, having surpassed Star Wars’ $461 million. The No. 1 movie, Titanic, is still far away at almost $601 million. When you adjust for inflation, Dark Knight is now at No. 35 (bracketed by Independence Day and Home Alone), and may well get itself past No. 26, Thunderball ($529.6 million), but No. 25 — Grease, at $544.6 million — is probably out of its reach. At least for now.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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  • JT

    I’m surprised that a movie like Shrek 2 that was out in 2004 gets an additional $60 million when adjusted for inflation. WTF? I’m still paying $6.50 for a matinee ticket just like I was 4 or even 6 years ago. I get the feeling that the “adjustment for inflation” is just a formula that doesn’t actually reflect reality.

  • Box Office Mojo adjusts based on current average ticket price, which in 2008 is (according to them) $7.08.

    A far better indicator is their estimated tickets sold, which for some movies (like Gone With the Wind) is utterly amazing.

  • MaryAnn

    You’re lucky, JT, that you’re still paying the same for a movie ticket you paid six years ago. That’s not true everywhere. In 2002-4, movies were 10 bucks here in NYC. Today they’re 12. And there’s no such thing as a bargain matinee, either.

  • Mo

    JT- seriously? Matinees were $6.75(Canadian) here just a couple of years ago or less. Now they’re $9 and went up at about the same time our dollar was suddenly worth way more. (I’d like someone to explain that one.)

    It probably partially explains why some movies are suddenly such big blockbusters. Ticket prices are up so much that a static (or shrinking) movie budget gets many people into half as many movies as it did and leads to much more careful planning. Two summer movies instead of six or seven in my cash-strapped case.

  • Mark

    A far better indicator is their estimated tickets sold, which for some movies (like Gone With the Wind) is utterly amazing.

    But isn’t this just the same thing as their inflation-adjusted list, only not multiplying by $7.08?

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