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Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Dark Knight: The Top Grossing Film of 2008

By Rob

It was less than two weeks ago -- 10 days ago to be exact -- when I predicted that The Dark Knight would be the top grossing film of 2008. And two weeks ago, I was met by naysayers. Two weeks later, on the eve of the film's release... There's few left questioning the probability of it finishing as the top grossing film of the year, as ridiculous estimates for it's opening weekend continue to pop up online.

The most recent prediction I saw was on is for 136.7 million. That would be the second highest opening weekend ever; just barely ahead of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (135.6) and behind only Spiderman 3 (151.1 million) .

Note: This figure is the average estimate of 724 site members in a game called Box Office Derby, and not any sort of official estimate by the site. I have found other average predictions over the past 5 or so months to be fairly accurate. It is what it is: a prediction.

Of course, 10 days ago, there was no question that The Dark Knight would finish in the top 5 for the year, but at #1? It'd have to make approximately 320 million to do that. Well I was predicting just that: 320 million in the end. (Although what I'm reading now makes 320 sound like more of a conservative estimate, I'd stick to that until this weekend's box office results are released.)

Maybe the naysayers were wondering whether the film's dark nature would leave behind a lot of the moviegoers who turned out to watch the nonthreatening, quick-witted charm of fellow superhero Iron Man. But I don't think that was it. The biggest concern was [probably] this: Batman Begins made 205.3 million domestic and 371 million worldwide. And I completely agree. I was somewhat reluctant to predict it to be the highest grossing. But there's three big things working for The Dark Knight that I think will send it over 3oo-million-dollar edge.

1) A tremendous amount of hype surrounding the film,
2) Likely the most heavily advertised movie since Spiderman 3 or the third Pirates of the Caribbean, and
3) The positive response Batman Begins received from critics and moviegoers alike.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is, of course, The Dark Knight's competition for the top spot. Indiana Jones has, to date, grossed 311.3 million, and showed it's legs by remaining in 1,664 despite entering it's 8th week. To help put things into perspective, Sex and the City -- which finished 12th at the box office last weekend -- was in 1,025 theaters in it's 7th week. I know SATC is rated R, and Indiana PG-13, but it still provides a look a the big picture.

Iron Man vs. Indiana Jones
I think Indiana will surpass Iron Man for #1 on the year. I've been ignoring it up until now, but yes, Iron Man is still the year's top grossing film with 313.8 million grossed to date. However, Indiana Jones was in twice as many theaters last week -- Iron Man's 11th week -- and will likely gross twice as much as Iron Man this weekend, and do so again the following weekend, which I presume will be Iron Man's last. Indiana Jones is currently 2.5 million behind, so yes, I'm preemptively passing along the title.

Hancock at the Box Office:

I don't like Hancock (174.5 million domestic thus far) as a movie with legs. I predicted that Hancock would finish at 190 to 200 million domestic 10 days ago, and that still doesn't seem too unfair. Current predictions for Hancock this weekend are for around 15.6 million, which would bring the film's total gross to approx. 190.1 million in 19 days of release.

But after this weekend...

Step Brothers and The X-Files are released on July 25th, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor on April 1st, and Pineapple Express on April 8th. All of which should cut into Hancock's gross. I think that Hancock could be looking at 15-7-5-4 million over the next four weekends. If I'm correct with those estimates, then Hancock will have grossed 206.1 million over it's first 6 weeks and could possibly use what would presumably be it's last two weeks to reach for 210 million. Maybe I'm being really hard on Hancock, but I guess we'll see what it can do.

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