Box Office Power Rankings: December 19-21, 2008

slumdog-millionaire.jpgEarlier this month, I noted that no 10th-place-gross movie has ever won the Box Office Power Rankings title.

That’s still true.

But Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire — which expanded to 589 sites this past weekend and landed in eighth place in overall box office — could have finished in last place and still won this week’s crown.

With 31 points (out of a maximum 40) and a three-point edge over The Tale of Despereaux, Slumdog could afford to lose two points — the difference between eighth and 10th place in gross. But it would need to retain all its other points, including for per-theater box office.

Slumdog finished with $5,184.65 in per-theater revenue, while the movie below it in that category (Despereaux again) earned $3,255.05. That gives a window of between $1.92 million (Desperaux’s per-theater revenue multiplied by Slumdog’s sites) and $2.05 million (Quantum of Solace’s 10th-place take) for Boyle’s movie to finish last and first simultaneously. (Eleventh-place Milk earned $1.73 million, so it wouldnt’ have sneaked in.)

And I officially spend too much time on this crap.

Box Office Power Rankings: December 19-21, 2008
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Slumdog Millionaire-3 ($3.1M)8 ($5.2K)10 (93)10 (86)31
2The Tale of Despereaux-8 ($10.1M)7 ($3.3K)7 (53)6 (53)28
3Yes Man-10 ($18.3M)9 ($5.3K)4 (44)4 (45)27
4Bolt14 ($4.1M)3 ($1.4K)9 (85)9 (68)25
5Seven Pounds-9 ($14.9M)10 ($5.4K)3 (28)1 (36)23
6Twilight35 ($5.2M)4 ($1.7K)5 (50)7 (56)21
7Quantum Of Solace41 ($2.1M)2 ($1.1K)8 (65)8 (58)19
8Australia62 ($2.2M)1 ($1.0K)7 (53)6 (53)16
8The Day the Earth Stood Still57 ($9.9M)6 ($2.8K)1 (20)2 (39)16
8Four Christmases66 ($7.7M)5 ($2.2K)2 (25)3 (41)16


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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