Box Office Power Rankings: August 22-24, 2008

clone-wars.jpgHow badly has George Lucas damaged the Star Wars franchise? At Box Office Mojo, The Clone Wars’ revenues are being compared to Final Fantasy and TMNT — and after two weekends, it’s losing to both.

The Clone Wars would appear to show that Star Wars is now being greeted with audience apathy and critical disdain; with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 18, it’s just a little better than Mirrors, the scribes say.

It could be that the world is simply seeing the movie for what it is: a commercial for the Cartoon Network animated series slated for the fall. I’d prefer to think that critics and audiences alike are trying to compensate for hype-fueled lapses in judgment over the past decade. Revenge of the Sith had a baffling Rotten Tomatoes score of 79, which followed more-reasonable but still far-too-generous scores of 63 and 66 for the other two Star Wars prequels. And the trilogy had a combined domestic gross of $1.1 billion. Shame on all of us. (I’m not above reproach.)

The Clone Wars dropped to eighth place in this week’s Box Office Power Rankings, with Tropic Thunder and The Dark Knight finishing first and second — just like last week. The new releases simply couldn’t compete, with The House Bunny finishing third, Death Race fifth, and The Longshots seventh.

Box Office Power Rankings: August 22-24
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Tropic Thunder110 ($16.3M)8 ($4.9K)9 (83)9 (71)36
2The Dark Knight27 ($10.5M)7 ($3.3K)10 (94)10 (82)34
3The House Bunny-9 ($14.5M)10 ($5.4K)6 (42)7 (55)32
4Pineapple Express45 ($5.5M)6 ($2.1K)8 (68)8 (64)27
5Death Race-8 ($12.6M)9 ($5.0K)5 (41)4 (42)26
6Mamma Mia!73 ($4.3M)3 ($1.9K)7 (54)5 (51)18
7The Longshots-1 ($4.1M)5 ($2.0K)4 (38)6 (52)16
8Star Wars: The Clone Wars56 ($5.7M)1 ($1.6K)3 (18)3 (35)13
9Mirrors64 ($5.0M)4 ($1.9K)2 (15)2 (33)12
10The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor92 ($4.2M)2 ($1.7K)1 (11)1 (31)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 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.

Hmmm...which directorial name seems odd on this list?

“The Dark Knight”: Christopher Nolan
“Tropic Thunder”: Ben Stiller
“Pineapple Express”: David Gordon Green
“The Longshots”: Fred Durst

Don’t they kind of all?

I’m guessing you mean Durst, but how could we have anticipated Batman after Memento, or Pineapple Express after George Washington? And Ben Stiller doesn’t seem an obvious choice for a movie with a production budget of $92 million.

Care to clarify?

Gosh, you’re right. My comment could very easily apply to any of those filmmakers. I was referring to Durst, but as you pointed out, there can be an “odd” directing choice all around.

I also read the other day (in “Entertainment Weekly”) that the rash of Wednesday openings was due to the Olympic Games. Apparently the studios opened some films early to offset competition with that television event. I don’t know if that’s the sole reason for all the Wednesday openings, but it makes sense at first glance.

But the more I think about it, most of the major Olympic Events (Michael Phelps, USA basketball, et. al) took place during the week. I guess this can all be debated until the cows come home.

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