Box Office Power Rankings: November 9-11, 2007

Since unveiling the Box Office Power Rankings in May, it’s become apparent that the Culture Snob system does what it was intended to do — expose crappy popular movies as the gold-plated turds they are and reward good movies that might not have as much marketing muscle behind them.

But it’s still largely a disheartening experience, because it actually highlights the problems of the marketplace rather than correcting them.

Take, for example, The Game Plan. It is now in its seventh week on our charts, by virtue of its almost shocking longevity with consumers. No other movie from its September 28-30 opening weekend remains in the box-office top 10. Eastern Promises spent two weeks in the top 10.

The Box Office Power Rankings spotlight two sad realities of the entertainment industry today: the short half-life of movies in the public consciousness, and that people prefer comfortable entertainments to anything even remotely challenging. (And Eastern Promises is only remotely challenging — Cronenberg’s most dramatically and tonally straightforward work.)

I’m not asking that Eastern Promises rake in $86 million in domestic box office instead of the $17 million it actually made. I just wish that more frequently, movies of its ilk did a little better for a little longer on charts more money-focused than Culture Snob’s.

Should we hold out hope for No Country for Old Men when it opens wide on November 21?

On to business: American Gangster and Bee Movie were first and second in this week’s rankings, just like last week.

Box Office Power Rankings: November 9-11, 2007
(Rank) Movie (last week; box office, per-theater, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic: total)
(1) American Gangster (1; 9, 10, 10, 10: 39)
(2) Bee Movie (2; 10, 9, 8, 8: 35)
(3) Dan in Real Life (2; 6, 7, 9, 9: 31)
(4) 30 Days of Night (6; 3, 4, 8, 7: 22)
(5) Fred Claus (-; 8, 8, 2, 3: 21)
(5) Lions for Lambs (-; 7, 6, 3, 5: 21)
(7) The Game Plan (10; 4, 3, 4, 4: 15)
(8) Martian Child (9; 1, 1, 5, 6: 13)
(9) P2 (-; 2, 2, 6, 2: 12)
(9) Saw IV (8; 5, 5, 1, 1: 12)

Methodology

Culture Snob’s Box Office Power Rankings balance box office and critical reception to create a better measure of a movie’s overall performance against its peers.

The weekly rankings cover the 10 top-grossing movies in the United States for the previous weekend. We assign equal weight to box office and critical opinion, with each having two components. The measures are: box-office gross, per-theater average, Rotten Tomatoes score, and Metacritic score.

Why those four? Box-office gross basically measures the number of people who saw a movie in a given weekend. Per-theater average corrects for blockbuster-wannabes that flood the market with prints, and gives limited-release movies a fighting chance. Rotten Tomatoes measures critical opinion in a binary way. And Metacritic gives a better sense of critics’ enthusiasm (or bile) for a movie.

For each of the four measures, the movies are ranked and assigned points (10 for the best performer, one for the worst). Finally, those points are added up, with a maximum score of 40 and a minimum score of four.

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