Box Office Power Rankings: July 4-13, 2008

pixar.jpgWith surprisingly strong reviews, Hellboy II: The Golden Army topped the most recent Box Office Power Rankings, unseating WALL•E after a two-week reign.

Guillermo Del Toro’s sequel fared better with critics than its forebear, and it will be interesting to see how The Dark Knight fits into the Box Office Power Rankings picture with three (and possibly four) top-10 competitors at 72 or above on Rotten Tomatoes and 64 or higher on Metacritic. As good as the early notices have been on Christopher Nolan’s follow-up, it could easily finish fourth or fifth among critics in our measures.

But before WALL•E falls out of the cultural consciousness — it hasn’t yet, has it? — we should explore a question: If you’re Pixar and Disney, do you begin to fret about bloated budgets? The worldwide gross of Pixar features compared to production budget has been on the decline. The ratio was more than 12-to-1 for Toy Story and dipped to what was then a low of 4.60 for Monsters, Inc. before recovering with Finding Nemo (9.22), The Incredibles (6.91), and Cars (6.6).

But with production budgets topping $150 million for Ratatouille and WALL•E, those last three numbers might be impossible to replicate. The former’s gross-to-budget ratio was a Pixar-low (but still spectacular) 4.14, and for the latter to have a ratio of 5, it would need to earn $900 million worldwide — which only Finding Nemo has come within $260 million of. These movies are still immensely profitable, but I’m not seeing an additional $60 million to $90 million on the screen.

Box Office Power Rankings: July 4-6, 2008
(Rank) Movie (previous week; box office, per-theater, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic: total)
(1) WALL•E (1; 9, 9, 10, 10: 38)
(2) Kung Fu Panda (3; 6, 6, 9, 9: 30)
(3) Wanted (2; 8, 8, 6, 7: 29)
(4) Hancock (-; 10, 10, 2, 1: 23)
(5) Get Smart (4; 7, 7, 4, 4: 22)
(5) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (5; 4, 3, 7, 8: 22)
(7) Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (-; 3, 4, 8, 6: 21)
(8) The Incredible Hulk (5; 5, 2, 5, 5: 17)
(9) Sex and the City (7; 2, 5, 3, 2: 12)
(10) You Don’t Mess With the Zohan (8; 1, 1, 1, 4: 7)

Box Office Power Rankings: July 11-13, 2008
(Rank) Movie (previous week; box office, per-theater, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic: total)
(1) Hellboy II: The Golden Army (-; 10, 10, 9, 9: 38)
(2) WALL•E (1; 7, 7, 10, 10: 34)
(3) Journey to the Center of the Earth (-; 8, 8, 4, 4: 24)
(4) Hancock (4; 9, 9, 2, 2: 22)
(4) Kung Fu Panda (2; 3, 3, 8, 8: 22)
(4) Wanted (3; 6, 6, 3, 7: 22)
(7) Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (7; 1, 2, 7, 6: 16)
(7) Get Smart (5; 5, 5, 3, 3: 16)
(9) The Incredible Hulk (8; 2, 1, 5, 5: 13)
(10) Meet Dave (-; 4, 4, 1, 1: 10)

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.

That’s an interesting chart on Pixar’s progress. It goes to show how even with all their success one miscue could jeopardize all their other projects already in the works. From what I’ve heard WALL-E is actually the last of Pixar’s orginal story ideas dating back to the first Toy Story. It’s very impressive that all of those stories came to fruition, how many filmmakers can say that? As much as I admire their work I have to admit I haven’t seen one of their films in a movie theater since Finding Nemo.

Leave a comment

Close