By Monday morning, The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) will likely be the No. 1 movie of 2008. Even the rosiest of forecasts could not have anticipated that the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman Begins sequel would surpass Marvel’s Iron Man (Paramount) and Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull (Paramount) in only 10 days, but it appears that the dark superhero/crime thriller hybrid will do just that.
After grabbing a remarkable $238.61M in its first seven days, easily besting the previous mark set by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Disney) by $42.6M, The Dark Knight seized an estimated $25M on its second Friday. That makes for a new eight-day cume of $263.61M, $50M more than Pirates 2 generated in 8 days. That is almost 20 percent better than Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow sequel at the same point in its release.
None of the usual rules seem to apply to this comic book adaptation, but I am targeting $77M for this three-day weekend. If the number holds, The Dark Knight will have $315.61M banked by Monday morning, which should be just enough to push past Iron Man. Warner Bros has also taken firm hold of the No. 1 spot in studio market share with $883M or so. They are within $225M of Paramount, which will have sold $1.1 billion in tickets.
It once appeared that Paramount, with back-to-back-to-back $200M grossing movies, would easily be the No. 1 studio in 2008, but The Dark Knight’s outrageous success has made it a real horse-race. Paramount has sure-fire hits Tropic Thunder (8/15) and Madagascar 2 (11/7) still to come, while Warner Bros counters with Star Wars: The Clone Wars (8/15) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (11/21). The race could come down to which studio can come up with another breakout hit. Maybe DJ Caruso’s re-teaming with Shia LaBeouf on Eagle Eye (Dreamworks/Paramount) performs like Disturbia. Or Ridley Scott’s House of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, can breakout like last year’s American Gangster (Universal)?
Will Ferrell and writer/director Adam McKay, who previously joined forces for Anchorman and Talladega Nights, have scored again. Step Brothers (Sony), the generally well-reviewed R-rated comedy, has scored a very strong $11.5M on Friday. That should translate to an estimated $32.2M for its opening weekend and a solid No. 2 finish. It also marks the all-time third-best opening for the former Saturday Night Live star Ferrell , trailing only Talladega Nights ($47M) and Blades of Glory ($33M).
Mamma Mia! (Universal) is proving to be sturdy in its second weekend. The ABBA-inspired Broadway adaptation has females 25+ singing in the aisles with an estimated $5.75M on Friday. Meryl Streep’s first movie musical should finish with $17.6M in the frame for a 10-day cume of $62.44M. This picture will have no trouble pushing past $100M.
The re-boot of Chris Carter’s The X-Files has stumbled out of the gate with an estimated $5M on opening day. The hit TV series wrapped up its television run in 2002, but the show enjoyed its best ratings in 1998. There have long been questions about how relevant Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) would be among Under 25 moviegoers, and the Fox marketing folks have done everything they could to lure a new generation of fans. In the final analysis, The X-Files: I Want To Believe will manage only $12M or so for its opening three days.
Will Smith’s Hancock (Sony) is holding very strong with No. 5 picking up $2.5M on Friday for a new cume of $200.67M. The three-day should be an estimated $7.7M, and the Peter Berg-directed superhero flick should finish as one of the top five grossing movies of the summer.
EARLY THREE-DAY ESTIMATES
1. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) – $77.4M, $17,728 PTA, $316M cume
2. Step Brothers (Sony) – $32.2M, $10,407 PTA, $32.2M cume
3. Mamma Mia! (Universal) – $17.6M, $5,888 PTA, $62.4M
4. The X-Files: I Want To Believe (Fox) – $12M, $3,768 PTA, $12M cume
5. Hancock (Sony) – $7.7M, $2,327 PTA, $205.87M cume
6. Journey to the Center of the Earth (Warner Bros) – $6.45M, $2,402 PTA, $57.22M cume
7. WALL-E (Disney) – $5.58M, $1,834 PTA, $194.47M cume
8. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Universal) – $5.05M, $1,678 PTA, $66M cume
9. Space Chimps (Fox) – $3.73M, $1,473 PTA, $15.36M cume
10. Wanted (Universal) – $2.72M, $1,547 PTA, $128.6M cume