Box Office Power Rankings: September 26-28, 2008

fireproof.jpgLate afternoon Tuesday, the Christian drama Fireproof had unofficially won this week’s Box Office Power Rankings, with a gross of almost $7 million and a per-theater average to make Eagle Eye sweat. By Wednesday morning, however, it was in fourth place.

Call it the Curse of the Small Sample Size. On Tuesday, the movie had one Metacritic review: a 50. On Wednesday, it had three: two 50s and one zero. Hence, its Metacritic average dropped from 50 to 33, and plunged its ranking in that criterion from second to last.

I initially thought that the movie was a victim of snooty critics skipping the “religious” film. But the reality is that the studio didn’t screen it for the heathens. So now I don’t feel so bad for Kirk Cameron and his cohorts; they got what they deserved.

And in the process, they showed one of the weaknesses of the Box Office Power Rankings: the potential for tyranny by The Onion’s AV Club and its accusations of misogyny.

Box Office Power Rankings: September 26-28, 2008
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Eagle Eye-10 ($29.2)10 ($8.3K)4 (27)7 (43)31
1Burn After Reading16 ($6.2M)5 ($2.3K)10 (78)10 (62)31
3Lakeview Terrace28 ($7.0M)6 ($2.8K)7 (42)8 (46)29
4Fireproof-7 ($6.8M)9 ($8.1K)9 (63)1 (33)26
5Nights in Rodanthe-9 ($13.4M)8 ($5.0K)3 (26)5 (39)25
6Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys41 ($3.1M)3 ($1.9K)8 (53)9 (49)21
6Igor65 ($5.4M)4 ($2.3K)6 (29)6 (40)21
8Miracle at St. Anna-2 ($3.5M)7 ($2.9K)6 (29)4 (37)19
9My Best Friend’s Girl74 ($3.9M)2 ($1.5K)1 (11)2 (34)9
9Righteous Kill83 ($3.7M)1 ($1.2K)2 (23)3 (36)9


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.

Wait, what the hell is Fireproof? Why is Kirk Cameron still making films? How do these films gross more than his own $7.50 admission price?

Metacritics have it wrong. Packed houses are the norm for this movie. A little on the amature side, but it’s the only movie I’ve been to where the audience actually applauded at the end. Not many dry eyes to be seen either. Overall-good plot, good message. You MUST see to form your own opinion.

Guess the Metacritics din’t like it because there was no blood or gore. Too bad for them.

Methinks you misunderstand what Metacritic represents; it’s a review aggregator, so it’s supposed to tell you what critics overall think about a movie.

The problem comes with a movie such as Fireproof that is not screened for critics. The result is that a very few reviews end up being counted and are given inordinate weight.

As of this writing, Fireproof has six reviews on Metacritic. Eagle Eye has 29.

I’m guessing that many of the people who have seen Fireproof have never heard of No Country for Old Men.

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