For once, I got a prediction right! For the third weekend in a row, The Dark Knight has fought its way to the top of the box office charts. The #1 film took in an impressive $43.8 million dollars, which means a whole lot of people have seen it several times. The takes are slowly decreasing, to be sure, but Batman is not going anywhere any time soon. I imagine I’ll be writing about The Dark Knight until September in this column.
Fortunately, because I need something fresh to write about, a legitimate challenger taking aim at Christopher Nolan’s Batman opus came to the American box office in the form of Brendan Fraser and Rob Cohen’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Blowing past my expectations, the fourth installment of The Mummy franchise and third official Mummy film took in an incredible $42.45 million dollars for a very strong second place. It’s staggering that a franchise this long deferred has done this well, considering Rick O’Connell is Indiana Jones lite. Brendan Fraser also scored a second top five movie this weekend, with the fifth-place 3-D extravaganza Journey to the Center of the Earth ($6.875 million, with a quiet but impressive $73 million domestic take).
The other wide opener this weekend, the Kevin Costner political comedy/drama film Swing Vote, seems to have hit a bit of anti-political resentment as it managed only a sixth-place $6.3 million dollar payday. Kevin Costner isn’t the box office force he once was, and I can definitely say that most Americans are already sick of all discussion of politics right about now. I can’t wait until the election is over.
Last week’s second place film, Step Brothers, held onto third place this weekend, with $16.3 million dollars. Apparently Will Ferrell is far from over, as this seems to be a return to box office form after the disappointing Semi-Pro. The film has already grossed $62.96 million dollars in two weeks at the box office. Apparently, you can’t overestimate the intelligence of the American public.
Mamma Mia!, the ABBA musical I was and remain completely clueless about, disco-dances into fourth place this week, with $13.1 million dollars. In many ways it is an odd film to release right in the middle of the summer blockbuster season, but as counterprogramming it seems to have excelled. After the macho excess of The Dark Knight and the preteen brainlessness of Step Brothers, a fluffy little musical is probably a great palate cleanser.
Hancock hangs onto seventh place this weekend, with $5.2 million dollars. I’ll admit I was dead wrong about Will Smith, and this film has shown more leg than I could have ever imagined at the box office. I’m sorry, Will. You beat me.
Long-standing holdover Wall-E continues to perform well, with an eighth-place box office total of $4.7 million. Wall-E joins the $200 million dollar club, while Hancock is going to pass $400 million dollars globally by this time next weekend. Fellow animated film Space Chimps uses its prehensile tail to cling to tenth place this weekend, grabbing up $2.84 million dollars. No doubt it used its hands and feet to grab at the cash, as chimps tend to do.
The X-Files: I Want to Believe is something like a visit from old friends. It’s always nice to see them, but they’ve only got so long before the warm welcome becomes a cold shoulder. In its second week, Mulder and Scully nearly fell out of the top ten, managing only $3.4 million dollars for a ninth-place stop. If last week was a disappointment for the continuation of the franchise, this week has to put the dreams of a third X-film on life support. Perhaps some stem cells can perk the franchise up, but I kind of doubt it. The British numbers, as best I can tell, haven’t been released, but I don’t see any good news on the horizon.
There is an interesting trend developing. Starting next week, and continuing on through the rest of the summer, are Wednesday openings. Usually reserved for gigantic blockbusters and holiday weekends, a lot of quieter films are getting midweek bows to avoid the Friday traffic, starting with the August 6th release of Pineapple Express. From now until September, there will be movies coming out both on Wednesday and on Friday. It makes absolutely no sense on most of these weeks, but I’m not complaining.