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cultural vandal | 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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