It was all Batman at the box office yet again, as The Dark Knight continued its winning — and record-breaking — ways. The comic-book sequel was an easy No. 1 on a weekend that featured a strong debut by Step Brothers and the surprising flame-out of The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
The Dark Knight lived up to expectations by grossing $75.6 million, according to Sunday’s estimates, bringing its 10-day haul to an astonishing $314.2 mil. That makes it the fastest film ever to clear the $300 mil mark (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest did so in 16 days — yes, practically a week longer). Assuming its estimated gross holds, the film’s $75.6 mil take is the most a movie has ever banked on its second weekend (surpassing Shrek 2’s $72.2 mil). The second Batman flick from star Christian Bale and director Christopher Nolan is, after less than two weeks, already in a dead heat with the year’s other big blockbusters, Iron Man (which has earned $314.9 mil in 13 weeks) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (which has brought in $313.6 mil in 10 weeks). And it already ranks 23rd on the all-time domestic box office chart.
Wow. I mean, wow! At this rate, The Dark Knight could clear the $400 mil mark by next weekend, utterly annihilating Shrek 2’s speed record of 43 days. By that point, it will have already entered the ranks of the 10 best domestic grossers ever. And, at the risk of getting a bit carried away here, it could be eyeing an ultimate historic home at No. 2, somewhere between Titanic ($600.8 mil) and Star Wars ($461 mil). The Dark Knight’s financial trajectory is definitely going to be a fun one to watch.
Finishing in second place, though hardly an afterthought, was the Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly comedy Step Brothers, which earned a very strong $30 mil. That’s a nice rebound for Ferrell, whose previous release, Semi-Pro, banked just $33.5 mil during its entire run. The movie enjoyed the eighth-best bow ever for an R-rated comedy, though it may have a hard time keeping the pace in the weeks to come, considering its somewhat weak CinemaScore review of B from a generally young-male crowd.
Thanks largely to older women, Mamma Mia! (No. 3) was next with a very nice $17.9 mil second-weekend gross, on a minimal decline of 36 percent. The film’s fan base should help it consistently rake in the dough as the weeks go on.
That won’t be the case, however, with The X-Files: I Want to Believe (No. 4), which disappointed big time with a mere $10.2 mil debut. That’s way down from the $30.1 mil that its predecessor, the 1998 X-Files movie, generated on its first weekend. Put simply, this TV adaptation sequel just generated no heat at the box office: Besides that small gross, it received a bad CinemaScore grade of C from a crowd that was a whopping 80 percent over age 25. Bye-bye, X-Files.
Journey to the Center of the Earth (No. 5) continued its solid run, banking $9.4 mil on a mere 24 percent drop, to give it a nice three-week take of $60.1 mil. It’s also worth noting that Will Smith’s Hancock (No. 6 with $8.2 mil) became the year’s fifth film to reach the $200 mil plateau, and WALL-E (No. 7 with $6.3 mil), whose sum now stands at $195.2 mil, appears poised to do the same quite soon. Oh, and with a cumulative gross of $132.5 mil, The Incredible Hulk has now inched past the disappointing $132.3 mil total posted by its disappointing 2003 predecessor, The Hulk, although it won’t be bringing in much more.
Overall, the total amount of money earned at the multiplex was down a mere 1 percent from the same frame a year ago, when The Simpsons Movie led the way. Nonetheless, things are good and strong in box office land, and after writing yet another breathless weekend report, I think I’m ready for a vacation!