Box Office Power Rankings: October 3-5, 2008

american-carol.jpgIn this campaign season, what can we learn from the performances of An American Carol and Religulous?

The easy conclusion is that audiences aren’t real keen on such aggressively political material, with the two movies finishing ninth and 10th, respectively, in the weekend’s overall box office. The second easy conclusion is that conservatives are slightly hungrier for entertainment than people who don’t like religion.

Neither is correct.

While these two movies brought up the rear here in box office, at least they finished in the top 10, unlike fellow new releases Blindness, Flash of Genius, and How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. All of those opened in more theaters than Religulous, and all but Flash of Genius opened in more than An American Carol.

As for the conservative and whatever-Bill-Maher-is divide, Religulous had the second-best per-theater average in the top 10. An American Carol did better only than Burn After Reading, which had been out for three weekends.

Critics were far kinder to Maher’s anti-religion documentary than the the proudly conservative satire of David Zucker, which garnered worse reviews than anything else in our rankings. That might mean that movie critics hate God and conservatives.

Add it all up and it appears that pandering to right-wingers isn’t enough; they wanted something better than An American Carol.

Box Office Power Rankings: October 3-5, 2008
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Appaloosa-6 ($5.1M)7 ($4.8K)9 (76)9 (63)31
1Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist-8 ($11.3M)5 ($4.7K)8 (72)10 (64)31
3Beverly Hills Chihuahua-10 ($29.3M)10 ($9.1K)6 (42)4 (42)30
4Eagle Eye19 ($17.7M)8 ($5.0K)3 (28)5 (43)25
5Religulous-1 ($3.4M)9 ($6.8K)7 (66)7 (55)24
6Burn After Reading14 ($4.1M)1 ($1.7K)10 (78)8 (62)23
7Lakeview Terrace35 ($4.6M)2 ($1.8K)6 (42)6 (46)19
8Fireproof43 ($4.0M)6 ($4.7K)6 (42)2 (28)17
9Nights in Rodanthe57 ($7.4M)4 ($2.7K)2 (27)3 (39)16
10An American Carol-2 ($3.7M)3 ($2.2K)1 (15)1 (23)7


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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