Box Office Analysis, July 27: ‘Dark Knight’ Reigns Supreme Again

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 ten days, but it appears that the dark superhero/crime thriller hybrid will do just that.

Fueled by Heath Ledger’s amazing performance as The Joker, The Dark Knight grabbed $23.2M Friday, $28.1M Saturday, and Warner Bros is estimating $24.33M Sunday for a $75.63M weekend. I suspect that, like last Sunday, when the new Batman dipped just eight percent from Saturday, the comic book adaptation will hold stronger today putting the film’s three-day above $76M for a new cume of about $315M.

After grabbing a remarkable $238.61M in its first seven days, The Dark Knight’s eight-day cume of $261.61M is about about $50M more than Pirates of the Caribbean 2 generated in eight days. After nine days, TDK is 20 percent stronger than previous No. 2 Dead Man’s Chest’s $239.41M, and, after 10 days, Nolan’s blockbuster is almost $57M stronger than Pirates of the Caribbean 2 .

Thanks to TDK, Warner Bros. has also taken firm hold of the No. 2 spot in studio market share race with an estimated $883M or so. They are within $225M of Paramount, which will has sold an estimated $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 strong $10M on Friday. That should translate to an estimated $30M 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 $6.74M on Saturday. Meryl Streep’s first movie musical should finish with $17.86M in the frame for a 10-day cume of $62.71M. 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 $4M on opening day, dipped to $3.5M Saturday. 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 $10M or so for its opening three days.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Warner Bros) is proving to be a durable family-friendly summer movie with another $3.79M on Friday and a likely $9.41M for the weekend. That gives the Brendan Fraser 3D adventure a new domestic cume of just over $60M. Meanwhile, Will Smith’s Hancock (Sony) is holding very strong at No. 6, picking up $3.23M on Friday. The three-day should be an estimated $8.2M, and the Peter Berg-directed superhero flick has a new cume of $206.37M, virtually guaranteeing that it will finish as one of the top 5 grossing movies of the summer.


1. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) – $75.63M, $17,322 PTA, $314.24M cume

2. Step Brothers (Sony) – $30M, $9,696 PTA, $30M cume

3. Mamma Mia (Universal) – $17.86M, $5,974 PTA, $62.71M

4. The X-Files: I Want To Believe (Fox) – $10.2M, $3,202 PTA, $10.2M cume

5. Journey to the Center of the Earth  (Warner Bros) – $9.41M, $3,502 PTA, $60.18M cume

6. Hancock (Sony) – $8.2M, $2,478 PTA, $206.37M cume

7. WALL-E (Disney) – $6.34M, $2,085 PTA, $195.23M cume

8. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Universal) – $4.93M, $1,634 PTA, $65.89M cume

9. Space Chimps (Fox) – $4.37M, $1,723 PTA, $16M cume

10. Wanted (Universal) – $2.72M, $1,554 PTA, $128.6M cume