The Dark Knight Rises Soars Above the Competition with $36.4 Million

The Dark Knight Rises Soars Above the Competition with $36.4 MillionThe Dark Knight Rises continued its late-summer dominance of the North American box office this weekend as Batman showed he’s still got some fight left in those old bones. Christopher Nolan’s Batman finale shrugged off newcomers Total Recall with Colin Farrell and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days for a third straight weekend box office victory. Despite Batman’s strong legs, the box office continued to lag behind last year at this time by roughly 28 percent as the Summer Olympics and lack of strong films weighs heavily on attendance.

The Dark Knight Rises eased only 41 percent from a weekend prior in earning an estimated $36.4 million from 4,242 venues. After seventeen days, it has earned a great $354.6 million and should make its way to at least $425-430 million by the end of the summer. With foreign sales contributing $378 million to the film’s overall total of $733 million thus far, The Dark Knight Rises should have no issue becoming the next film to join the elite billion-dollar club.

The same will not be said about the first of two new films in release, the $125 million remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger Sci-Fi hit Total Recall. The new version, which stars Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel, opened on 3,601 screens to earn a mild $26 million in estimated sales. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes largely trashed the film (31% approval rating) and ticket buyers on opening day showed their displeasure by giving the movie a “C+” CinemaScore rating. That later rating and the slight 9% increase in business on Saturday – The Dark Knight Rises jumped 40 percent in comparison – are telltale signs that the public would rather “recall” a repeat of the Paul Verhoeven original than pay good money to watch Len Weisman’s take on the Philip K. Dick tale.

Third, fourth and fifth place all went to movies from Twentieth Century Fox. While the market dominance might appear to be a good thing for the studio on the surface, it was hardly a cause for celebration. Their combined grosses of $32.6 million was still considerably less that the weekend gross one year ago this weekend from a single Fox release, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which bagged $54.7 million in three days.

The first of the studio’s low-budget adaptations of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid books to make a summertime debut, Dog Days, might have been better off opening during the school year, in March, like the first two films did in earning $20ish million in their debuts. The new film opened at a time when no kids are in school but grossed roughly 25% less on its opening weekend. While the mixed critical notices (49% Rotten Tomatoes rating) probably didn’t factor into the low gross of $14.7 million from 3,391 theaters, the fact that most families are probably enjoying summertime activities like vacations most likely did.

Another factor for the wimpy grosses on Dog Days would have to be fellow Fox family flick Ice Age: Continental Drift. The 3D animated comedy eased 37% in its fourth round to earn an estimated $8.4 million on 3,542 screens. To date, the prehistoric comedy has earned $131.8 million in domestic earnings and an incredible $584 million in international ticket sales.

Rounding out the top five this weekend is a third Fox release, the Ben Stiller bomb The Watch. Dropping 50% from its weak debut, the comedy earned a bad $6.5 million from 3,168 theaters and now stands at $25.3 million overall. Another R-rated comedy, the Universal smash Ted, lost a mere 25% of its previous weekend’s audience to earn $5.4 million to land in sixth place. To date, the Seth MacFarlane smash has earned a huge $203 million domestically and $78 million overseas, and should wrap up its North American run with an incredible $220-230 million.

The remainder of the top ten is as follows:

7. Step Up: Revolution (Summit) $5.3 million (-55%) $23 million to date

8. The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony) $4.3 million (-36%) $250.6 million

9. Brave (Pixar/Disney) $2.9 million (-32%) $223.3 million

10. Magic Mike (Warner Brothers) $1.4 million (-47%) $110.9 million

The Dark Knight Rises will next face Jason Bourne’s successor in The Bourne Legacy next weekend, along with Warner’s The Campaign and Sony’s Hope Springs. It should be the weekend that Batman finally falls from his perch.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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