Dark Knight Dethroned
By John Hamann
August 17, 2008
The Knight finally falls to second place, and despite the fact that it doesn't manage to hold the number one spot for a fifth straight weekend, Batman does punish George Lucas. In its fifth historic frame, The Dark Knight earned $16.8 million. It was off 36%, and has now seen drops of 53%, 43% and 39% leading up to this weekend. Let's get to the good news: The Dark Knight now has a cume of $471.5 million, which makes it the second biggest domestic grosser of all time, ahead of the first Star Wars, A New Hope. That one has earned $461 million since 1977, and was the biggest grosser for many years until Titanic came along. It sat in second for 11 years, seemingly untouchable until today. It now appears all but certain that The Dark Knight will earn $500 million plus. Where it finishes after that is somewhat unclear, as I wouldn't be surprised to see this one get a re-release for the Oscars, if they don't try to get in onto DVD in time for Christmas.
Third this weekend is George Lucas hitting the cash machine, as he pimps out history's greatest franchise once again. Star Wars: The Clone Wars opened to $15.5 million (on the backs of children), despite looking awful and being abused by critics. Lucas went on the cheap with this one, casting only a few of the actors from the latest series, and using borrowed animation from the upcoming animated Star Wars TV series. After being a fan of Lucas for many years, this one has now pushed me to the dark side towards the bearded one (Sith Lord Lucas?), as I have nothing but glee that Clone Wars earned a disgusting 19% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes. The only thing this one has going for it is that it didn't star Hayden Christensen. May its death be slow and painful.
New release Mirrors is our number four finisher, despite looking like a film that should have opened in the dumping grounds of September. Mirrors, which stars Kiefer Sutherland, opened to an okay $11.1 million from a "the-writing-is-on-the-wall" venue count of 2,664 theatres. IMDb reports a production budget of $35 million, an amount this one won't come close to domestically. The good news for Mirrors is that its not the worst reviewed film of the weekend, despite finishing at 29% - thanks be to George Lucas.
Finishing fifth is last frame's number two flick, The Pineapple Express. The stoners forgot to spread word-of-mouth heading into the weekend, and the Pineapple got crushed, earning only $10 million. It was off a surprisingly large 57%, and I'm amazed that it earned less in its second weekend than it did opening day ($12.1 million). Tropic Thunder stole the comedy audience, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars stole the idiot audience, and I would say that The Pineapple Express got caught in the middle. Judd Apatow comedies aren't used to these big drops, and this may hurt Seth Rogen's shot at being the new Mr. Everything. The good news for Apatow Productions and Columbia is that this one was made on the cheap, costing only $25 million to make, a figure it had matched after five days of release. The domestic total for The Pineapple Express has now reached $62.9 million, and it should finish with as much as $90 million.