Studio Weekend Box Office: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Wins the Gold Vs. New Competition UPDATED TOP TEN ANALYSIS

Studio Weekend Box Office: 'The Dark Knight Rises' Wins the Gold Vs. New Competition UPDATED TOP TEN ANALYSIS

Nothing could touch Chris Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” at the box office this weekend. Grosses for the top wide releases came in at about below 27% of the same weekend last year, mostly due the ongoing impact of the Olympics. “The Rise of the Planet of the Apes” debuted that weekend, with a weekend gross of $55 million, more than double that of this weekend’s top new film “Total Recall.”   

1. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (Warner Brothers) – Week 3  (last weekend – #1)

$36,440,000 in 4,242 theaters (-162); PSA (per screen average): $8,590,000; Change from last weekend: -41%; Cumulative: $354,638,000

The good news for Nolan’s latest is that it should remain #1 for a third straight weekend, and that the drop from the second frame will be less than “The Dark Knight” on its third weekend in 2008 (-43%). And beating the top new opening by more than $10 million further attests to dominance in a still Olympic-affected market.

“The Dark Knight” was also #1 for its third weekend – coming in at $42,000,000 – beating a strong challenge from “The Mummy: Tomb of the Emperor,” which actually was the top-grosser on its opening day heading toward a $40 million three-day total and a strong #2. 

Prospects: As has been clear from the start, “The Dark Knight Rises” will not equal the last film’s eventual total ($533 million US/Canada in 2008, which would be even higher at today’s ticket prices). But it is headed for more than $400 million, and much more in the rest of the world. That it won’t surpass “The Dark Knight” doesn’t mean that this still isn’t a major success.

That said, it is unlikely to have a fourth weekend at #1 (unlike “The Dark Knight”), with “The Bourne Legacy” on tap for next Friday.

2. TOTAL RECALL (Sony) – NEW (Metacritic score: 44)

$26,000,000 in 3,601 theaters; PSA: $7,220,000; Cumulative: $26,000,000

The third Sony high-budget sequels/remake this summer, “Total Recall” so far is grossing within the studio’s own muted expectations, but is not carrying its weight domestically considering a reported $125-million budget. The original Paul Verhoeven/Arnold Schwarzenegger 1990 hit, which at $65 million was of the costliest films of its year, opened to about $25 million, which is equal to just under $50 million at 2012 ticket prices. It went on to gross $119 million in the US/Canada, then another $141 million worldwide. 

The 1990 film had several advantages the remake didn’t: a global action star who was a huge draw, working in a genre that was evolving into the high-end, high-concept special-effects driven area that is now commonplace. Plus, it wasn’t a remake of a highly regarded original. And it didn’t have to open against the Olympics, which clearly is continuing to depress grosses this weekend.

For all the flak Colin Farrell gets, he actually has been the star of several strong openers: “Minority Report,” “SWAT” and “Miami Vice” all had better openings — but the most recent was six years ago.  Clearly, “Total Recall” is more genre remake than star-driven vehicle, but considering the thankless task of replacing Arnold in one of his top films. This performance is an improvement over last year’s Arnold remake “Conan the Barbarian” (whose full opening weekend was only slightly better than the “Recall” Friday number). This “Total Recall” is lagging behind “Terminator: Salvation,” but at least the three-day gross will come in at roughly the same proportion of its budget as that much more costly project ($200 million).

Director Len Wiseman is returning to Sony, where he made the first two “Underworld” films before going to Fox for “Live Free and Die Hard” five years ago. The Bruce Willis-starrer opened to $33 million in US/Canada on its way to a worldwide gross just under $400 million, certainly better than this will fare.

Neil Moritz, one of the two producers, is one of the most active at work today, most often in high-end action films (the “Fast and Furious” series, “Battlefield LA,” “SWAT,” “I Am Legend,” to name a few, along with hit “21 Jump Street” earlier this year). This looks to be a mid-range grosser for him.

Prospects: The saving grace for “Total Recall” could be that unlike 1990, today action films like this are expected to double or more their domestic take overseas. It opens in a handful of overseas territories this weekend, then starts rolling out more aggressively in the next two weeks before blanketing the world by the end of September. All this means its ultimate success is an open question irrespective of a less than great domestic opening.

3. DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS (20th Century-Fox) – NEW (Metacritic score: 53)

$14,700,000 in 3,391 theaters; PSA: $4,335; Cumulative: $14,700,000

This third “Wimpy Kid” film in just over three years  (a quick production schedule these days) is going to be the weakest by some distance. The earlier ones, both of which opened in March to take advantage of spring breaks, had non-summer weekends in the $22-24 million range, and ended up #2 and #1 respectively for their opening weekends.

This is director David Bowers’ fourth film, including the 2nd “Wimpy Kid” entry. It should end up his second-biggest opening (after his previous “Wimpy”). Credit producer (and ex-Disney head of production) Nina Jacobson for tending to business while she also was overseeing “The Hunger Games,” here working again with Bradford Simpson, who has found his studio niche after earlier indie work in various capacities on films like “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Far from Heaven” and “Boys Don’t Cry” during his time at Christine Vachon’s Killer Films. To the producers’ credit, they kept the budget in line with the earlier sequel ($22 million, up $1 million).

This is Fox’s third release in four weeks after “Ice Age: Continental Drift” and “The Watch”) and the second to open against the Olympics. This qualifies as the counter-intuitive strategy of the year. And with Fox placing three films in the top five this weekend, it has showed some success.

Prospects: The significant change comes from the spring break release date of the first two to a (late) summer date for this — a double risk both because of Olympics competition and because many school kids start heading back to school soon, depleting the potential audience in later weeks. Still, with the likely uptick for Saturday and Sunday this should still head to a reasonable weekend gross. Vacation weekday grosses should run closer to the previous films, but this installment should still fall short of their $52-62 million totals.

4. ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT (20th Century-Fox) – Week 4 (last weekend – #4)

$8,400,000 in 3,542 theaters (-327); Change from last weekend: -36% ; PSA: $2,372, Cumulative: $131,862,859

Prospects: Holding its position this weekend (ahead of last week’s two new films (both of which fell off more) and adding to its already impressive gross. The “Ice Age” series looks like it has become a perennial with a long way to go before interest runs out.

5. THE WATCH (20th Century-Fox) – Week 2 (last weekend #3)

$6,350,000 in 3,168 theaters (unchanged); Change from last weekend: -50%; PSA: $2,004; Cumulative: $25,363,203

Prospects: After a steep 61% fall on Friday, this rebounded somewhat last night, indicating a bit of life left going forward. Still, this could have only one top 10 week left.

Prospects: A major drop confirms that this all-star aliens-in-the-suburbs comedy won’t be in theaters too much longer.

6. STEP UP REVOLUTION (Lionsgate) – Week 2; (last weekend- #2)

$5,300,000 in 2,606 theaters (+39); Change from last weekend: -55% PSA: $2,034; Cumulative: $23,097,149

Prospects: Falling steeply in its second weekend (about as much as “Step Up 3D” did two years back, this has no shot of equaling the last installment’s $42-million domestic total.

7. TED (Universal) – Week 6  (last weekend – #5)

$5,500,000 in 2,767 theaters (-362); Change from last weekend: -25%; PSA: $1,980; Cumulative: $203,400,000

Prospects: The smallest weekend drop of any of the top 10, topping $200 million, and clearly headed for at least a couple more weeks in the top 10 as one of the best word of mouth hits of the summer.

8. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (Sony) – Week 5 (last weekend – #6)

$4,300,000 in 2,425 theaters (-735); Change from last weekend: -36%; PSA: $1,595; Cumulative: $250,640,000

Prospects: The relatively small fall-off is more impressive with Sony losing nearly a quarter of its theaters. However, at this point it seems certain that it will fall below the Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” entries, the least of which grossed $336 million with lower ticket prices, which with the reboot’s $230-million budget is not what was anticipated. That said, with more than $700 million likely worldwide, it’s still a success by any measure.

9. BRAVE (Buena Vista) – Week 7  (last Friday – #7)

$2,890,000 in 2,110 theaters (-441); Change from last weekend: -33%; PSA: $1,370; Cumulative: $223,324,000

Prospects: A decent hold while losing a bunch of theaters boosts the total gross, even if this has not performed at the level of the top Pixar releases.

10. MAGIC MIKE (Warner Brothers) – Week 6  (last weekend – #8)

$1,380,000 in 1,202 theaters (-873); Change from last Friday: -47%; PSA: $1,148; Cumulative: $110,894,000

Prospects: This is near the end of its run — the theater count was down more than 40% — but the film’s legs are as impressive as those on display in the film.

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