Box Office Power Rankings: August 15-17, 2008

vicky.jpgIt’s not a surprise that Tropic Thunder unseated The Dark Knight last weekend after four-week reigns atop the box-office charts and the Box Office Power Rankings. Good reviews, some protests, Ben Stiller, and a white-hot Robert Downey Jr. will do that, although its $40-million six-day take has to be considered something of a disappointment in light of its $92-million production budget.

What isn’t a disappointment is Woody Allen, who sneaked into the box-off top 10 and landed in third place in our rankings. With Vicky Cristina Barcelona showing in just 692 locations — earning the second-best per-theater average of the weekend — Woody rode good reviews to a great showing. A weekend gross of $3.8 million isn’t much, but that’s the beauty of the Box Office Power Rankings: Three out of four ain’t bad at all.

Just ask George Lucas and Keifer Sutherland, whose new movies scored within three points of each other (and low) on both critical measures and were less than 50 bucks apart on per-theater average. The Clone Wars’ higher theater count gave it the overall-box-office edge on Mirrors, but neither will be bragging: They finished fifth and sixth in the rankings.

Box Office Power Rankings: August 15-17

Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Tropic Thunder-10 ($25.8M)10 ($7.8K)9 (84)9 (71)38
2The Dark Knight19 ($16.4M)8 ($4.6K)10 (94)10 (82)37
3Vicky Cristina Barcelona-1 ($3.8M)9 ($5.4K)8 (80)8 (70)26
4Pineapple Express26 ($9.8M)5 ($3.2K)7 (68)7 (64)25
5Star Wars: The Clone Wars-8 ($14.6M)7 ($4.2K)3 (18)2 (35)20
6Mirrors-7 ($11.2M)6 ($4.2K)2 (15)3 (36)18
7The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 233 ($5.8M)2 ($2.1K)6 (63)6 (63)17
7Mamma Mia!54 ($6.1)3 ($2.2K)5 (54)5 (51)17
9The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor85 ($8.2M)4 ($2.4K)1 (11)1 (31)11
9Step Brothers52 ($4.8)1 ($1.8K)4 (50)4 (50)11


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.

This week pretty much confirms the value of your ranking system -- the lowest-grossest film of the 10 jumps to #3 on mostly good reviews and a great per-theater average. I’m really gratified to see Woody doing so well, and with one of his best movies too.

Okay, now I’m confused. This comment would probably be more appropriate on your previous post, but I just saw that “The Rocker,” (a lame-looking Rainn Wilson vehicle) is opening today. How’s that for another strange Wednesday release?


Maybe Hollywood types are starting to look at grosses through Sunday rather than the weekend numbers that most of us hear. So perhaps those few extra days help?

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