Box Office Power Rankings: March 28-April 6, 2008

funnygamesposter.jpgOur Box Office Power Rankings have been grim in recent weeks. George Clooney’s Leatherheads tops this week’s rankings — breaking Horton’s three-week reign — and was the second-best-reviewed movie in the top 10 with mediocre Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores of 53 and 56, respectively. It’s a bad crop out there, people.

So it seems appropriate to get grimmer with Michael Haneke’s English-language remake of his own Funny Games. RogerEbert.com Editor Jim Emerson spent much of last month spilling its blood, but I think he expended far too much effort. It’s easy to prove: No matter how good Haneke’s movie is, it’s an abject failure — and it was destined to be.

In one interview cited by Emerson, Haneke said:

“Of course I’m a critic of the studio system. But that doesn’t mean that one can’t work within that system. Funny Games was always made with American audiences in mind, since its subject is Hollywood’s attitude toward violence.”

In another interview, Haneke said:

“I hope that the slap in the face that I’m trying to give works here as well.”

But for all the hullabaloo that Haneke’s shot-for-shot remake has inspired, the writer/director never got to deliver that slap. He might have gotten an American studio to finance the project, but it never gave the movie an opportunity to assault its audience. In four weeks of release, Funny Games has earned $1.3 million in the United States, and it topped out at 288 theaters in its second week.

All of Haneke’s big talk died with a whimper. He wanted to confront American audiences with their own ugliness, but Warner Independent ensured that nobody showed up. Perhaps next time his people should spend more time negotiating distribution.

Box Office Power Rankings: March 28-30, 2008
(Rank) Movie (previous week; box office, per-theater, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic: total)
(1) Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who (1; 9, 9, 10, 10: 38)
(2) 21 (-; 10, 10, 7, 7: 34)
(3) Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns (2; 7, 8, 6, 6: 27)
(4) Stop-Loss (-; 3, 7, 8, 8: 26)
(5) The Bank Job (4; 1, 3, 9, 9: 22)
(6) Drillbit Taylor (5; 6, 4, 5, 5: 20)
(7) Superhero Movie (-; 8, 6, 4, 1: 19)
(8) Shutter (6; 5, 5, 1, 4: 15)
(9) 10,000 B.C. (9; 4, 2, 2, 2: 10)
(10) College Road Trip (10; 2, 1, 3, 3: 9)

Box Office Power Rankings: April 4-6, 2008
(Rank) Movie (previous week; box office, per-theater, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic: total)
(1) Leatherheads (-; 8, 9, 9, 9: 35)
(2) 21 (2; 10, 10, 6, 7: 33)
(2) Nim’s Island (-; 9, 8, 8, 8: 33)
(2) Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who (1; 7, 6, 10, 10: 33)
(5) The Ruins (-; 6, 7, 7, 7: 27)
(6) Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns (3; 4, 5, 5, 5: 19)
(7) Superhero Movie (7; 5, 4, 3, 1: 13)
(7) Drillbit Taylor (6; 3, 2, 4, 4: 13)
(9) Shutter (8; 2, 3, 1, 3: 9)
(10) 10,000 B.C. (9; 1, 1, 2, 2: 6)

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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