Alright, here are the facts about The Dark Knight Rises:
• Warner Bros.’ $250 million sequel is an utterly huge movie.
• It earned $64.1 million in its second weekend (a 60 percent drop).
• It has grossed $289.1 million after ten days.
• This total is less than the The Dark Knight had earned at the same point in its run ($313.8 million), and that’s fine.
• This total is also less than the The Avengers had earned at the same point in its run ($373.1 million), and that’s also fine.
• Overseas, the film has already grossed $248.2 million, and its headed for a finish between $900 million and $1 billion worldwide.
The reality is that it doesn’t matter if the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy beats any other film at the box office — The Dark Knight Rises is a truly gigantic hit that will have the suits at the studio very, very happy.
That said, the film is certainly performing below initial expectations. Things looked rather dire on Friday, when Rises had to compete against the widely watched Olympic opening ceremonies and earned $18.1 million — a whopping 76 percent drop from its first Friday. But it stabilized nicely over the rest of the weekend. Rises ticked up 44 percent on Saturday to $25 million and is estimated to earn another $21.1 million today. Altogether, that’s $64.1 million — good for a robust $14,549 per theater average — but a 60 percent drop from the film’s $160.9 million debut.
That weekend drop indicates that Rises won’t have the same legs as The Dark Knight, which ultimately found $533.3 million, so a domestic finish in the $450 million range seems likely. Many who expected the film to earn Avengers-sized numbers are pointing to the tragic Aurora shooting as the main reason for the film’s lower-than-expected business, but at this point, I believe that word-of-mouth is a bigger factor. While the film scored an “A” CinemaScore grade, critical reviews are not nearly as strong, and Bane is a less dynamic/marketable villain than Heath Ledger’s Joker. Still, as I keep reiterating, The Dark Knight Rises is an enormous hit.
In second place, Fox’s frozen animation Ice Age Continental Drift gathered $13.3 million in its third weekend, lifting its domestic total to $114.8 million — the lowest domestic total ever for an Ice Age movie after 17 days (including the original, which had $116.9 million at the same point), though still quite strong. Fortunately for Fox, the film has already grossed $511 million overseas, and it’s far from done with its run.
Fox’s other big release, The Watch, debuted in third place with an awful $13 million. The $68 million R-rated comedy, which stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill, started off even lower than Adam Sandler’s recent R-rated misfire That’s My Boy, which grossed $13.5 million its opening weekend and $36.5 million overall.
Originally titled Neighborhood Watch, Fox was forced to change the film’s title and make a marketing about-face in February following the shooting of Trayvon Martin by Florida neighborhood watch officer George Zimmerman. Suddenly, Fox brought the film’s alien invasion plotline to the surface (something the studio was avoiding following John Carter and Battleship), but audiences never really got a clear picture of the film’s storyline.
Of course, terrible reviews didn’t help, either, as American audiences have proven themselves rather savvy at avoiding poor comedies (The Watch, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, That’s My Boy) and flocking to stronger ones (21 Jump Street, Ted) as of late. The audiences that did see The Watch were 60 percent male and 59 percent 25-years-old or older, according to Fox. Those patrons issued The Watch a “C+” CinemaScore grade.
Step Up Revolution, Summit’s $33 million sequel, finished the weekend in fourth place with $11.8 million — by far the lowest for a Step Up movie. Diminishing returns were expected, though. The original Step Up, which starred Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, opened with $20.7 million and earned $65.3 million in 2006. Sequel Step Up 2 The Streets debuted with $18.9 million and found $58 million total in 2008. Step Up 3-D opened with $15.8 million and grossed $42.4 million in 2010. All three predecessors were produced by Touchstone Pictures and distributed by Disney. The franchise has now changed hands to Summit.
Despite the low debut, Revolution, which earned a “B+” CinemaScore grade, isn’t a lost cause for Summit. International grosses for Step Up 3-D reached $116.9 million — a franchise high — and they may be the saving grace for Step Up Revolution as well. (Plus we all know that Step Up movies will never really die. If direct-to-DVD American Pie and Bring It On titles are still getting made, there must be room on Walmart shelves for low-budget Step Up spinoffs, too.)
Rounding out the Top 5 was Universal’s $50 million smash comedy Ted, which took in another $7.4 million, lifting its five-week total to $193.6 million and guaranteeing that it will pass the $200 million mark domestically very soon.
1. The Dark Knight Rises – $64.1 million
2. Ice Age: Continental Drift – $13.3 million
3. The Watch – $13.0 million
4. Step Up Revolution – $11.8 million
5. Ted – $7.4 million
Check back next week for full box office coverage on Total Recall and Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3, which will try (and most likely fail) to dethrone The Dark Knight Rises, and, as always, follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute box office updates.