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B.O. Update: Michael Phelps' Swimming May Be Dampening 'Tropic Thunder'

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Aug 16, 2008 | 8:04am EDT

Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount) is a hit, but it will come in with a five-day of less than Sony’s Pineapple Express, and it seems that the Beijing Olympics may be hurting the new R-rated comedy’s performance. Last week’s stoner comedy Pineapple Express, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, got two solid days of business in before the start of the Beijing Olympics and registered just over $18M on Wednesday and Thursday, then scored $23.24M on its opening weekend. Tropic Thunder, on the other hand, registered only $11M in its first two days in theatres, followed by an estimated $8.25M on Friday. That should translate to a $26.5M three-day and an opening five days of $37.53M or so.

The Dreamworks comedy is skewing much older than Pineapple Express, and this satirical take on the movie business is decidedly more sophisticated, and the 25 Plus demo is far more likely to be following the Olympics. The Ben Stiller-directed movie-within-a-movie has received excellent reviews (83 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and 72 percent Positive on MetaCritic), but that tends to drive those same grown-up movie fans. Robert Downey Jr., Ben StillerJack Black and Tom Cruise are competing with the world’s biggest star at the moment, Michael Phelps, who tied the 36-year old Mark Spitz record of seven gold medals at a single Olympiad Friday night at the Water Cube in Beijing and will try to surpass that mark Saturday night in primetime on NBC.

With excellent word-of-mouth, the end of the Olympics next weekend and no major competition for the next month, I am still anticipating that Tropic Thunder can reach $100M, whereas I am projecting a still excellent $70M-$75M for Pineapple Express. The Judd Apatow-produced Pineapple Express, however, was budgeted at a very modest $27M compared to Thunder’s $100M+ budget. 

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros), an animated LucasFilm spin-off, grabbed an estimated $6.65M on Friday, but this film will be very front-loaded as Star Wars junkies poured into theatres on opening day. The film could dip as much as 15 percent-20 percent on Saturday, leading to a three-day of $19.5M or so. That will probably mean a total domestic box office take in the $45M-$50M range.

Another solid hold for The Dark Knight (Warner Bros), which continues to soar to heights once thought impossible. The Christopher Nolan-directed comic book adaptation added an estimated $4.95M on Friday for an anticipated three-day of $17.17M, pushing the mega-hit to almost $472M. The Dark Knight seems destined for $515M-$520M domestic.

Mirrors (Fox) actually out-performed Pineapple Express on Friday with $3.7M in sales, but it will finish its opening weekend in fifth place with an estimated $10.12M. That makes it only the 7th-best opening for an R-rated horror movie in 2008.

TOP SEVEN 2008 HORROR FILM OPENINGS

1. The Strangers -$21M

2. Prom Night - $20.8M

3. The Eye - $12.42M

4. One Missed Call - $12.5M

5. Shutter - $10.4M

6. Mirrors - $10.12M

7. The Ruins - $8M

Meanwhile, The buzz is apparently wearing off for moviegoers as Pineapple Express slowed to $3.48M on Friday. The marijuana-fueled comedy is headed for an estimated $10.44M and a new cume just north of $63M, but that represents a 55 percent drop from its opening weekend.

EARLY THREE-DAY ESTIMATES

1. Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount) - $26.5M, $7,984 PTA, $37.53M

2. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros) - $19.5M, $5,649 PTA, $19.5M cume

3. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) - $17.17M, $4,785 PTA, $471.87M cume

4. Pineapple Express (Sony) - $10.12M, $3,294 PTA, $63.05M cume

5. Mirrors (Fox) - $9.8M, $3,681 PTA, $9.8M cume

6. The Mummy 3 (Universal) - $7.99M, $2,377 PTA, $86M cume

7. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (Warner Bros) - $6.69M, $2,467 PTA, $32.91M cume

8. Step Brothers (Sony) - $5.24M, $1,982 PTA, $91.13M cume

9. Mamma Mia (Universal) - $5.13M, $1,853 PTA, $115.05M cume

10. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Weinstein) - $4.02M, $5,816 PTA, $4.02M cume

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