The Dark Knight Three-Peats (Probably)
By John Hamann
August 3, 2008
It was a close race between newcomer The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and box office behemoth The Dark Knight, as weekend estimates have them finishing within $1.3 million of each other. The Mummy started on Friday with an almost $3 million lead, but The Dark Knight climbed back into the action as the weekend progressed.
As a result, The Dark Knight has another weekend of power, as the bat flexes his box office muscle and lands in first place for the third straight weekend. After weekends of $158.4 million and $75.2 million, and a total heading into the weekend of $351.1 million (after only 14 days of release), one might think The Dark Knight was headed for a large dip, but that isn't the case. The Dark Knight earned an impressive $43.8 million from a still awesome venue count of 4,266. The weekend-to-weekend percentage drop comes in at 42%, an amazing score considering the amount of business The Dark Knight has already done. Its gross-to-date of $394.9 million means that The Dark Knight will most likely surpass the $400 million mark by Tuesday, its 19th day, which is less than half the time it took Shrek 2 to reach the same mark (43 days).
With its depreciation over the last couple of weekends, beating Titanic is finally out of the question (it never had a chance). Eyes now should be on Star Wars: A New Hope, which grossed $461 million domestically, and sits second on the all-time grosser list. The Dark Knight will have accumulated this by the end of August, and if it does earn $500 million, it will do so come September.
Our number two film of the weekend is The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (aka Mummy 3). Tomb of the Dragon Emperor earned a solid but not spectacular $42.5 million from its opening weekend. Out to 3,760 venues, The Mummy 3 garnered a venue average of $11,290. Opening in the shadow of The Dark Knight, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is a snore, grossing less over opening weekend than the mighty bat did on opening day.
Compared to its Mummy brethren, this version opened on the downside, but that is most likely due more to a release date change and a multi-year layoff for the Mummy franchise. The Brendan Fraser-led Mummy movie series opened its first effects laden extravaganza to $43.4 million on May 7, 1999, and changed the summer movie industry forever. A year after Deep Impact scooped up $41 million on May 8, 1998, Universal's strategy of opening an even bigger summer blockbuster so early in May worked, which paved the way for two Spider-Man films breaking box office records over the same date, and the X-Men franchise cashed in as well. The second Mummy movie, The Mummy Returns, opened even earlier in May, on May 4, 2001, and grossed $68.1 million over opening weekend, thanks mostly to an extremely quiet April (Stallone's Driven was second over Mummy 2's debut weekend with $6 million).
This year, with Iron Man parked in the early May slot and Indiana Jones set up later in May, Universal moved Rick-what's-his-name and his Mummy friends to the first weekend in August, where films like The Bourne Ultimatum ($69.3 million opening), Rush Hour 2 ($67.4 million opening), Talladega Nights ($47 million opening) and Signs ($60 million opening) had found success. With the Mummy franchise in the dark for the last seven years, and this entry carrying a price tag of at least $145 million, this one is going to have to work very hard to match its production budget domestically; however, international grosses and DVD sales will eventually put this one over the top for Universal.
Reviews this time out were even more awful than the first two films. This came in at a terrible 10% fresh at RottenTomatoes, while the first two came in at 53% and 47% respectively. Will there be a Mummy 4? We can all hope that this franchise stays buried, but if it makes $250 million worldwide, we could be in for another ride, maybe next time in 3-D.