Box Office Power Rankings: July 18-20, 2008

Just how powerful a force is The Dark Knight?

Aside from winning this week’s Box Office Power Rankings, it’s breaking a ton of box-office records. But these sorts of milestones are often meaningless because of ticket-price inflation and a record-obsessed movie economy that floods the market with prints.

But looking at Box Office Mojo’s comparison of “all-time openers” is instructive. Yes, Christopher Nolan’s movie is in more theaters than the other four movies in the comparison. Yes, the earliest movie in the “showdown” (Spider-Man) came out in 2002, when movie tickets were cheaper. But the Batman is so thoroughly kicking their asses that it’s obvious these records are significant.

After one day in release, The Dark Knight had made $7 million more than its closest competitor (Spider-Man 3). After three days: still $7 million. Four days: $21 million. Five days: $31 million (now Revenge of the Sith). It would appear that the dude has some serious legs.

Box Office Power Rankings: July 18-20, 2008
(Rank) Movie (previous week; box office, per-theater, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic: total)
(1) The Dark Knight (-; 10, 10, 9, 9: 38)
(2) WALL•E (2; 5, 5, 10, 10: 30)
(3) Hellboy II: The Golden Army (1; 6, 6, 7, 8: 27)
(4) Journey to the Center of the Earth (3; 7, 8, 5, 5: 25)
(4) Mamma Mia! (-; 9, 9, 4, 3: 25)
(6) Hancock (4; 8, 7, 2, 2: 19)
(7) Wanted (4; 3, 3, 6, 6: 18)
(8) Kung Fu Panda (4; 1, 1, 8, 7: 17)
(9) Get Smart (7; 2, 2, 4, 4: 12)
(10) Space Chimps (-; 4, 4, 2, 1: 11)

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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