Fan frenzy for the Caped Crusader kept the unstoppable juggernaut The Dark Knight in the number one spot for the third weekend in a row in North America narrowly beating the new adventure sequel The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor which settled for the silver medal. However on a global scale, the Mummy sequel won the gold with $102M worldwide beating out the Batman flick’s $81M. Meanwhile, Kevin Costner‘s latest offering Swing Vote was met with apathy as it bombed and landed in sixth place with a dismal performance.




The Joker couldn’t stop stealing more cash. Warner Bros. enjoyed a superb hold for The Dark Knight which only dropped by 42% in its third outing to an estimated $43.8M. Averaging a still-muscular $10,267 per theater, the superhero sequel boosted its total to a jaw-dropping $394.9M in only 17 days and could now cross the $400M mark on Monday. The dark PG-13 actioner also broke into the top ten among all-time domestic blockbusters and now sits at number eight surpassing the $380.3M of 2005’s Star Wars Episode III.

The new Batpic is holding up so well that it is now virtually guaranteed to smash the $500M barrier too. The road ahead should be promising as late summer megahits that truly please audiences tend to have low declines in August. 2006’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest witnessed a 44% drop in its third outing at number one and its 17-day cume of $321.9M represented 76% of its eventual final. Last summer’s The Bourne Ultimatum banked $164.7M by the end of its third session which accounted for 72% of its overall cume. At a similar pace, The Dark Knight would go on to approach the neighborhood of $520M for an astonishing box office run.




Internationally, The Dark Knight grossed an estimated $37M from 51 markets to boost its stellar overseas tally to $202.5M. That gives the comic book flick a worldwide cume of $597.4M with much more fuel still in the tank as major markets like Korea, Japan, Spain, France, Russia, and Germany have yet to open.

Opening close behind in second place was Universal’s historical adventure sequel The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor which grossed an estimated $42.5M. Invading 3,760 locations, the PG-13 film averaged a solid $11,303 per site. It was the smallest debut in the franchise’s history trailing the $43.4M of 1999’s The Mummy and the $68.1M of 2001’s The Mummy Returns. At today’s ticket prices, those two figures would translate to about $60M and $85M, respectively. Dragon, which finds Brendan Fraser returning to fight ancient evil in China, was expected by many to bow at number one. Its tally was slightly lower than anticipated while Dark Knight‘s legs were stronger than expected. Jet Li, Maria Bello, and Michelle Yeoh were newcomers to this installment. Studio research showed that males made up 52% of the audience while 56% were 25 and older. Reviews were mostly negative.

Budgeted at $145M, Dragon Emperor got off to a potent start around the world where its release was strategically timed so the effects-driven actioner would hit the marketplace just a week ahead of the start of the Olympics in Beijing. Overseas, the film grossed $59.5M from 28 territories putting the global cume at a potent $102M. Universal is expecting to reach the vicinity of $375-400M in worldwide grosses. The previous two installments each collected $410-420M globally.

Will Ferrell’s latest comedy Step Brothers posted a good second weekend grossing an estimated $16.3M ranking third for the frame. Off 47%, the R-rated Sony release has banked an impressive $63M in ten days and should find its way to $100-110M.




Fans kept singing in their seats to Meryl Streep’s musical Mamma Mia! which slipped only 26% to an estimated $13.1M pushing the cume to $88M. The Universal hit is running ahead of last summer’s Hairspray and 2006’s Streep starrer The Devil Wears Prada which after their third weekends had grossed $78.9M and $83.5M, respectively. The ABBA songfest is proving to be a major crowdpleaser and a popular female-skewing alternative to the boy movies of summer.

Another film with legs, the adventure story Journey to the Center of the Earth, also held up well despite the arrival of a competing Brendan Fraser actioner. The New Line pic grossed an estimated $6.9M, off just 29%, and lifted its sum to $73.1M. Breaking the $100M mark has now become a possibility for the 3D pic.

Opening in sixth with a dismal debut was Kevin Costner’s political comedy Swing Vote with an estimated $6.3M from 2,213 venues. Averaging just $2,847 per site, the PG-13 film was backed with little marketing support and failed to excite the voting public. Costner invested over $20M of his own money to help finance the flop which Buena Vista distributed.

A pair of hits from the double century club followed. Will Smith’s Hancock dropped 37% to an estimated $5.2M and saw its cume climb to $216M for Sony. Disney’s WALL•E dipped a mere 26% to an estimated $4.7M for a $204.2M total to date. It broke through the $200M mark on Friday and should edge past Kung Fu Panda in another week or two to become 2008’s top-grossing toon.




Fox rounded out the top ten with two films that few are seeing. The sci-fi sequel The X-Files: I Want to Believe collapsed in its sophomore frame tumbling 66% to an estimated $3.4M. After ten days, the $30M pic has grossed only $17.1M and should end up with only $22-25M. The animated comedy Space Chimps slipped 37% to an estimated $2.8M for a cume of $22.1M. The X-Files team must be embarrassed by the fact that its film is being outgrossed by Space Chimps.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $145.1M which was down 8% from last year when The Bourne Ultimatum opened in the top spot with $69.3M; but up 25% from 2006 when Talladega Nights debuted at number one with $47M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,
www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Ouch! Who would have thought that The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor would get downright embalmed by critics? And will the scribes vote fresh or rotten for Kevin Costner’s goofy charm in Swing Vote? Find out all this and more, and recap our costumed exploits at last weekend’s Comic-Con, in this week’s Review Revue!

Well, it looks like another big weekend for The Dark Knight. Unless, that is, if Brendan Fraser has anything to say about it! Fraser faces off against the undead for another sequel in the popular Mummy franchise, but judging from its early Tomatometer he should have joined Mummy and Mummy Returns co-star Rachel Weisz and conscientiously objected to a third adventure.

Meanwhile, Kevin Costner goes for simple, all-American laziness as the nation’s most ill-prepared voter in Swing Vote. Released curiously during a lull between Obamamania and the November elections, can Swing Vote turn rampant voter apathy into widespread ticket-buyer enthusiasm?

Click to watch this week’s Review Revue!

Check back with us next week as we talk about the long-awaited sequel, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (will they still fit?) and Judd Apatow‘s fifth movie of 2008, David Gordon Green‘s Pineapple Express.

One action sequel tries to knock another out of the number one spot as The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor launches more than seven years after the last installment of the franchise hit theaters. The Dark Knight will fight hard to try and keep its hold on the top position, but even a second place finish will get it within striking distance of the $400M mark. The weekend’s other new release is the political comedy Swing Vote starring Kevin Costner which hopes to cash in on election fever. After red hot sales in June and July, the box office will start to cool off as the final month of summer kicks off.

Brendan Fraser is back in adventure mode with the new Mummy film which brings in Jet Li as the antagonist. The PG-13 film lost the director and lead actress from the first two chapters with Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious, XXX) taking over the director’s chair from Stephen Sommers and Maria Bello stepping in for Oscar winner Rachel Weisz as the Mrs. In Dragon Emperor, the adventure-loving couple travels to China when their son uncovers an ancient relic with extraordinary powers that can awaken an evil mummy. Michelle Yeoh also stars. Reviews have not been too kind.

The franchise has aged and fans haven’t exactly been clamoring for a new installment. A decent portion of the fan base will turn out but audience erosion will have an impact. Since the franchise has been locked away in a tomb since pre-9/11 days, new elements had to be added. Thus the casting of Li, the Chinese actor with the most commercial bang in the West. His fan base will take interest here especially since they rarely get to see him in big-budget effects-driven pictures. Li scored a number one hit already this year with The Forbidden Kingdom which bowed to $21.4M in April. But Li will learn what his Kingdom co-star Jackie Chan found out last summer with Rush Hour 3 – that a powerful franchise last seen in 2001 can lose its appeal all these years later. But Mummy is Fraser’s baby and with his fans enjoying him now in Journey to the Center of the Earth which has been a leggy hit, many will not feel the need for another action offering from the man so soon.

The first two films in the franchise, 1999’s The Mummy and 2001’s The Mummy Returns, opened to $43.4M and $68.1M, respectively. That would translate to $60M and $85M at today’s ticket prices. Both films debuted on the first weekend of May against no competition. In fact it was the first installment that started the industry trend of kicking off the summer movie season three weekends before the Memorial Day holiday frame. Universal was forced to try out the new strategy in order to get two weeks clearance from the unbelievably hyped Star Wars Episode I which launched a week before the holiday that year.

But the property has aged and the seven-year gap will take its toll this weekend. Since the last saga hit screens, fans of sci-fi, fantasy, and effects-driven actioners have moved on and have been wowed by numerous new franchises that have upped the standard like Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man, Pirates of the Caribbean, and of course a rebooted Batman. The Mummy now feels like yesterday’s entertainment, in more ways than one. Tied to Olympic fever spreading from Beijing, the film also bows in 28 international markets this weekend including most of Asia (except China), Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Invading 3,759 theaters in North America, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor could debut to about $48M this weekend.


Brendan Fraser returns in the third Mummy.

Kevin Costner returns to the big screen, this time playing an apathetic loser who gets tossed into the national spotlight overnight when his vote becomes the deciding factor in an ultratight presidential election in Swing Vote. Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper star as the candidates in this PG-13 film which is hoping to cash in on the current election buzz. But buzz is what’s lacking as the Buena Vista release has none of it. The marketing volume has been low. No excitement has been generated which means that Vote will have to rely almost entirely on what’s left of Costner’s starpower. Given the cast, it will skew older than any other release which means that reviews will matter a whole lot. And critics have not been giving any big endorsements here. Mamma Mia! will provide the most direct competition for the target age group and will probably gross more in its third frame than Vote will bank in its first term. Most fans will wait for the DVD which will probably hit stores a week before the Obama-McCain showdown this fall. Landing in 2,213 theaters, Swing Vote could open to about $8M this weekend.


Kevin Costner in Swing Vote.

Two-time box office champ The Dark Knight has continued its record-shattering run all week and heads into the all-important third frame which will give the industry an idea of its long-term playability. The superhero sequel will have about $340M grossed in the first two full weeks which is the highest tally by far for any film in its first 14 days. The Mummy will be a direct threat, but not by too much as it lacks the event status carried by the Christopher Nolan megahit. A 45% drop could occur giving The Dark Knight about $41M boosting the total to a stunning $391M after 17 days.

It seems that every two years Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay get together for a comedy positioned in the second half of summer. Their latest Step Brothers should see the same kind of second weekend drops that their previous efforts saw. 2004’s Anchorman fell by 51% while Talladega Nights tumbled 53% in 2006. Sony’s Step Brothers will face a certain level of competition from the new Mummy pic so a 50% drop is likely. That would give the sibling flick about $15.5M for the frame and $62M in ten days.

Last weekend, Mamma Mia! posted the second best hold of any film in the top ten and this weekend looks to be another solid one. Universal’s feel-good hit will see minimal competition from the frame’s freshmen films so a 30% decline could be in order. That would give Meryl Streep around $12.5M and a superb 17-day tally of $87M. Meanwhile, the worldwide cume will soar past $200M this weekend.

Fox had nothing to celebrate with its dismal bow for The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Even Drillbit Taylor saw a better opening this year. The sci-fi sequel plays to a very finite audience which came out on the first weekend so it’s no surprise that after its fourth-place debut, the film dropped to seventh place on Monday and Tuesday. A fall of at least 60% seems likely this weekend which would leave X-Files with only $4M for a weak cume of $17M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: Matt Damon unveiled the latest threequel of the summer with The Bourne Ultimatum which generated the best opening in the franchise with $69.3M. The Universal hit went on to collect $227.5M domestically and $443M worldwide while also garnering some of the best reviews of the year. The Simpsons Movie took a 66% tumble in its second weekend falling to second with $25.1M to push its ten-day cume to a terrific $128.1M. Disney’s Underdog underwhelmed in third with an opening of just $11.6M on its way to $43.8M. Rounding out the top five were the long-titled pics I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry with $10.6M and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with $9.5M. A pair of rejects debuted on the lowest rungs of the top ten. Paramount’s stuntman comedy Hot Rod opened to $5.3M while Liongate’s girl flick Bratz debuted to just $4.2M. Final grosses reached only $13.9M and $10M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got eerie excavations (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, starring Brendan Fraser and Jet Li) and back-woods balloters (Swing Vote, starring Kevin Costner and Kelsey Grammer). What do the critics have to say?

Critics are comparing the third installment of the Mummy series, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, to an Egyptian burial shrine — not because it contains visual opulence, but because it’s more than a little musty. Brendan Fraser returns as Rick, an intrepid explorer whose latest mission finds him in Asia, where he has to contend with an army of terra cotta warriors led by an ancient emperor (Jet Li). Let’s face it: the appeal of Mummy movies was their B-movie swashbuckling, not emotional heft or serious thematic resonance. But pundits say Tomb fails even at that modest level, featuring soulless CG effects, a notable lack of energy from the cast, and an overall lack of fun. At 11 percent on the Tomatometer, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is easily the worst-reviewed entry in a series the critics say is probably ready for embalming. It’s also one of the worst-reviewed films of the year. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we provide an overview of Jet Li’s best-reviewed films.)

Turns out Jet Li is the center of the universe.

We’ve seen some recent national elections come down to a few hundred votes, but what if the presidency was decided by a single ballot? It’s an inspired premise, one that critics say unfortunately pays only intermittent dividends in Swing Vote. Kevin Costner stars as Bud Johnson, an amiable, slothful average Joe who, through a technical error, becomes the deciding vote in a presidential election; as a result, he’s heavily courted by the candidates while trying to do right by his daughter. The pundits say Swing Vote has moments of gentle charm, but it’s too predictable and lacks the sharp bite required to make it truly successful satire. At 37 percent on the Tomatometer, a recount isn’t going to save Swing Vote.

“Don’t ever get drunk and go on eBay again!”


Also opening this week in limited release:

  • In Search of a Midnight Kiss, an indie comedy about a lonely guy looking for a smooch on New Year’s Eve, is at 89 percent.

  • America the Beautiful, a documentary about how the fashion industry negatively contributes to Americans’ obsession with their looks, is at 80 percent.

  • Frozen River, an indie drama about how a woman’s desperate search for her husband gets her involved in the trafficking of illegal immigrants, is at 78 percent.

  • Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind, a doc that poetically examines the gravesites of a variety of important historical figures, is at 80 percent.

  • The Helena Bonham-Carter-toplined Sixty Six, a British coming-of-age comedy about a boy who’s torn between attending his Bar Mitzvah and watching the World Cup, is at 60 percent.

    His attempts at water polo were less successful.

    Recent Kevin Costner Movies:
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