As I predicted, Tropic Thunder caused enough of a rumble this weekend to topple The Dark Knight from its perch atop the weekend box office. Its estimated $26 million was enough to finally knock the Christopher Nolan-directed Warner Bros. movie from the top spot after four weeks at No. 1. Still, Dark Knight’s weekend take of $16.7 million brought its total earnings to $471.5 million, enough to surpass 1977’s Star Wars’ total of $460 million to become the second-highest grossing movie of all time.
Warner Bros’. other wide release, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, grossed an estimated $15.5 million for the third spot in the weekend rankings. Weak reviews and audience reactions giving it a B-, according to pollster Cinemascore, didn’t help the animated spinoff at the box office. It probably proved a fair enough launch, though, to the television series that is scheduled to debut on the Cartoon Network in the fall.
Fox’s R-rated horror film Mirrors opened to an estimated $11.1 million this weekend, landing it fourth place. With a fairly barren selection of horror movies this summer (The Strangers was the most recent previous fright fest to bow, back in May), you would have thought this adaptation of a South Korean horror film starring Kiefer Sutherland would have debuted to higher numbers. But with a male audience distracted by all the R-rated comedies in the theaters, along with Star Wars: The Clone Wars keeping them away, it was up to female moviegoers to fill seats. Maybe Michael Phelps and the Olympics kept them away.
Since Paramount and Columbia were willing to pit their R-rated comedies Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express (fifth place this weekend with $10 million) against each other with just one week of distance between them, we should see how the two measured up to each other. The Ben Stiller-directed war movie-within-a-movie spoof starring Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. took in more during its three days than Pineapple Express, though the Seth Rogen stoner movie generated a higher five-day gross of $41.3 million than Thunder’s $37 million. (Exit polls show that audiences preferred Express to Thunder.) Express still took a steep fall its second weekend in theaters, dropping an estimated 57 percent. The Judd Apatow-produced movie has grossed close to $63 million in its 12 days of release.
All right, kids, the big movies of the summer have now come and gone. Unless you’re geared up for Death Race next weekend, get out of the theaters and into the sunshine. Summer will be over before you know it.