The Dark Knight in a League of His Own
By John Hamann
July 27, 2008
The weekend-to-weekend percentage drop for The Dark Knight comes in at 52%, a figure Warner Bros. and friends will be extremely pleased with. Usually, the rule when it comes to the second weekend drop is the bigger they are, the harder they fall. With The Dark Knight being the biggest opening ever, a drop over 65% would not have completely surprised me. Last weekend, it set a record for the amount earned from midnight screenings, a luxury Warner Bros. didn't have this weekend, which worked in favor of a higher drop. Spider-Man 3, the former title with the biggest weekend ever, fell 61% in its second frame, and had $240 million after ten days; PotC: Dead Man's Chest fell 54%; and kid friendly Shrek the Third fell 56% despite being propped up by Memorial Day weekend. The hold for The Dark Knight is almost as dramatic as the gross, and unbelievably propels The Dark Knight into first place for the entire year, despite being in release for only ten days (the current leader is Iron Man at $314 million). The total for The Dark Knight has reached $314.2 million; it should barge through the $400 million plateau as early as the end of next weekend; and could see a $500 million domestic gross by the end of its run. This is truly history. I see NOTHING on the movie-going horizon that could possibly touch these records.
Step Brothers is our number two film this weekend, and it's almost too bad it lives in the shadow of The Dark Knight, as it is a very strong comeback for Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, who are coming off mal-achievers like Semi-Pro and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Step Brothers, another comedy in what's become a long line of successes from uber-producer Judd Apatow, earned a larger-than-expected $30 million this weekend from 3,094 venues. It had an average of $9,696. For Apatow, this is an equivalent opening than last June's Knocked Up. For Will Ferrell, it's not close to his (and Reilly's) biggest, Talladega Nights, which opened to $47 million in 2006, but is at the high end of his average, which comes in around $25-30 million.
Reviews for Step Brothers came in right around expectations. As an idiot brother comedy, we knew it wouldn't see Dark Knight type of reviews, but it is an Apatow production, so we also knew they wouldn't be completely awful. RottenTomatoes found 112 reviews, out of which 58 were positive, leading to a slightly rotten score of 52%. This one should play well again next weekend, but then may find some competition form The Pineapple Express, another Apatow-related comedy the following weekend.
Third this weekend is not X-Files. It's Mamma Mia!, Meryl Streep's effective musical. Mamma Mia!, which earned a surprisingly strong $27.8 million in the face of The Dark Knight last weekend, took in another $17.9 million, dropping a not bad 36%. Based on a Broadway musical, Mamma Mia! had its own front-loaded base over opening weekend, and was apt to drop dramatically in its second weekend. Hairspray, the Broadway-based summer musical from 2007, also opened to $27 million, and fell a slightly larger 42% in its second weekend. It ended up with $119 million at the domestic box office. Despite weaker reviews, Mamma Mia should have similar success at the domestic box office, and even better scores overseas. So far, Mamma Mia! Has earned $62.7 million domestically, and over $80 million overseas - all against a production cost of only $52 million.