Box Office Power Rankings: August 1-3, 2008

xfiles.jpgIron Man started the summer on May 2, and The Dark Knight signified the end with its release on July 18. Based on what we’ve seen in recent weeks — and the uninspiring upcoming release calendar in terms of potential blockbusters — that’s how Hollywood is marking the season these days.

The major new releases the past two weekends have ranged from the expired (The X-Files: I Want to Believe) to the tired (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), with the requisite Will Ferrell comedy in Step Brothers and the movie with what might be the most annoying cast ever assembled in Swing Vote. (I can’t imagine a more unholy film-acting trio than Kevin Costner, Kelsey Grammer, and Nathan Lane, and the movie still had room for Judge Reinhold?)

The Mummy and Step Brothers did just fine in their opening weekends, but they can’t fool the Box Office Power Rankings. The Dark Knight is an unstoppable force with its combination of stellar reviews and record-breaking receipts, but the newcomers are even being bested by other older releases. This past weekend’s major entries — The Mummy and Swing Vote — finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in the rankings, one hamstrung by abysmal reviews and the other sunk because nobody saw it. Step Brothers is performing strongly by our measures, while The X-Files looks to be the biggest miscalculation of the summer. Aside from Chris Carter needing the work, what was the point?

Box Office Power Rankings: August 1-3

Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1The Dark Knight110 ($42.7M)9 ($10.0K)9 (94)9 (82)37
2Mamma Mia!37 ($12.6M)7 ($4.1K)7 (53)7 (51)28
2Step Brothers38 ($16.5M)8 ($5.3K)6 (50)6 (50)28
2Journey to the Center of the Earth56 ($6.7M)6 ($2.9K)8 (61)8 (57)28
5WALL·E23 ($4.6M)3 ($1.8K)10 (96)10 (93)26
6The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor-9 ($40.5M)10 ($10.8K)1 (9)1 (31)21
7Swing Vote-5 ($6.2M)5 ($2.8K)5 (39)4 (47)19
8Hancock84 ($5.1M)4 ($1.8K)4 (38)5 (49)17
9The X-Files: I Want to Believe72 ($3.4M)1 ($1.1K)2 (32)4 (47)9
10Space Chimps101 ($2.5M)2 ($1.2K)3 (34)2 (36)8


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 than gross receipts alone.

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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