Weekend Box Office: The Dark Knight Rises Drops 60%, Remains #1

The Bat is trapped, but still reigns supreme at the box office.

The same thing happens this time of the month every four years. The start of the Olympics seems to catch the attention of casual moviegoers who forgo a trip to the movie theater in favor of seeing sports they could care less about the rest of the year. Honestly, outside of a select audience who watches handball? Still, is that reason enough why The Dark Knight Rises had a strong second week nosedive. Losing 60% of its first-week audience, the grand finale of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy finished the weekend with an estimated $64 million. Another factor in the steep drop is the fallout from the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Though I don’t buy that logic. It may prevent those in the general vicinity of the Aurora theater from seeing the film, but after the initial shock factor of the events that took place died down, it was business as usual for most cineplexes around the country. In fact, two days after the shooting I sat in a nearly packed 600-seat auditorium and watched The Dark Knight Rises for the second time. The event in Colorado didn’t seem to be much of a reason to avoid what was one of the most anticipated theatrical releases of the year (maybe even the decade).

No, the reason for the drop probably had to do with the quality of film. Don’t get me wrong – I found The Dark Knight Rises to be a good (not great) conclusion to the trilogy, but it wasn’t as compelling as its predecessor, The Dark Knight. During the weekend, I exchanged messages with a friend who disagreed with me. His initial message posted on his Facebook timeline: “Epic doesn’t begin to describe it! Easily the best of the three!” He also found it to have the most compelling story to which I replied, “I don’t know about most compelling. The Dark Knight carries far greater emotional weight than The Dark Knight Rises. The seduction of good; forcing Batman, Gordon and Dent to make impossible ethical decisions; the further fracturing of Bruce Wayne’s psyche with the death of Rachel Dawes; etc…” Agree to disagree, I guess, but perhaps some of the early negative reviews by critics may have been warranted, fanboys be damned. Even among the Inside Pulse Movies staff there are those in the “Love It” camp while others “Loathe It.” And the word-of-mouth is not nearly as favorable as it was for The Dark Knight. Sure, the curiosity factor of seeing the recently deceased Heath Ledger as The Joker helped bring people theaters that first weekend, but in the weeks thereafter the word-of-mouth traveled long and far about how great the movie is. Granted, I made Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire my #1 pick that year (what can I say – I’m a sucker for a good romance with guns, permanent blindness, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire?), but The Dark Knight will have a lasting impact on cinema and be a topic of much discussion be it a film class, philosophy, et al.

Nevertheless, The Dark Knight Rises is resting comfortably at number one and in a few weeks should cross the $400 million mark. If and when that does occur it will join The Hunger Games and Marvel’s The Avengers as three titles that have grossed more than $400 million domestically in 2012. A feat that has never been accomplished before.

If the shooting massacre in Colorado was the scourge that stalled the attendance of The Dark Knight Rises nationwide, well the new release The Watch didn’t far much better. Originally titled Neighborhood Watch, that title was changed as the result of a Florida shooting that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman. With a less than enthusiastic ad campaign from Fox, the comedy seemed doomed from the get-go. What’s sad is that eight years ago Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn delivered Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, one of the best box office surprises that summer. So to see them re-team (with the additions of Jonah Hill and IT Crowd‘s Richard Ayoade) you expect to laugh. But this restricted comedy failed at humor and pretty much everything else, with the exception marketing tie-ins. Both Costco and Budweiser are featured prominently in the film. At this point in their careers, Vince Vaughn is on the down slope; here he looks like he’s going through the motions, playing his Old School character all over again. And Ben Stiller is not cut out for playing the straight man in the comedy. Though Stiller is still bankable as a talking lion (Madagascar) and a museum guard (Night at the Museum), he needs to stay away from dreck like this and last year’s Tower Heist. And just say “Fock no,” to any more Focker movies.

The other big release for the weekend was another addition to the Step Up franchise. Step Up Revolution is the fourth entry of the series in a six-year span. It also has the lowest-opening weekend number of the franchise. But costing an estimated $33 million, the dance film is guaranteed to clean up once the international numbers are factored in. The last release, Step Up 3-D, the first in the franchise to be presented in 3-D, cost $30 million and nearly 74% of its total gross came from overseas. Domestically it made $42 million, but in foreign territories it made close to $117 million.

Blue Sky’s Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to do well, holding on to second position, though only $300k separates it from third-place finisher The Watch. Much like the previous installment, the Ice Age see most of its earnings come from the result of international performance. Domestically the film crossed $100 million this week (a figure that is the usual price tag to get these films made), but overseas it has already made over $511 million. Perhaps American parents are tired to taking their kids to see more talking animals. Madagascar 3 was enough for them this summer.

Don’t look now but Ted is about to cross the $200 million mark. Its $7.4 million for the weekend was enough to overtake The Amazing Spider-Man to finish in the top five. As for the new and improved Spider-Man, it is about to cross $700 million worldwide with more millions to come. Pixar’s Brave is nearing its run and should finish with close to $230 million. Rounding out the top ten you have Magic Mike, Savages and Moonrise Kingdom. One of those is worth seeing in theaters. It’s the one that doesn’t involve thongs or a drug cartel.

As far as indie releases go, Fox Searchlight’s Beasts of the Southern Wild got 79 new locations to bring its total theater count to 208 as it brought in $914k. Searchlight also gave the deconstruction romantic comedy Ruby Sparks a limited release onto 13 screens where it grossed $152k. Documentaries Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and Searching for Sugar Man also made their debuts in limited release. Both had per-screen averages of $9000 and $9500, respectively. William Friedkin’s Killer Joe starring Matthew McConaughey debuted on three screens and had the second-best per-screen average of the weekend (behind The Dark Knight Rises). The film averaged $12,633 per screen to earn $37.9k overall. Finally, Drafthouse Films dropped the Danish comedy import Klown into three theaters where it collected $17.9k for the weekend. If you have an arthouse theater nearby, do check out Beasts of the Southern Wild, plus Killer Joe and Searching for Sugar Man if you live in NY or LA. Do your part and support small films.

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Source: Box Office Mojo

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