Box Office Power Rankings: January 9-11, 2009

grantorino.jpgIn 2008, only one movie got a perfect score in the Box Office Power Rankings: Iron Man, twice in May.

In the second weekend of January, we already have our first perfect score of 2009: for Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino.

At the outset, I will note that a perfect score says more about a movie’s circumstances than it does the movie itself. The Dark Knight was, by a hair, a better movie than Iron Man in critics’ eyes, yet it opened with WALL•E in theaters, thus blocking its chance at a 40 in our weekly contest.

Gran Torino joins the rarefied company of Iron Man and The Bourne Ultimatum with its Box Office Power Rankings perfection. (Our rankings were launched in mid-2007.) But it’s the lesser of the three. Eastwood’s movie has a combined Rotten Tomaotes/Metacritic score of 148, compared to Bourne’s 179 and Iron Man’s 171.

From that, we can see that Gran Torino benefited from relatively weak competition in the box-office top 10.

Box Office Power Rankings: January 9-11, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Gran Torino-10 ($29.5M)10 ($10.5K)10 (76)10 (72)40
2The Curious Case of Benjamin Button16 ($9.2M)5 ($3.1K)9 (73)9 (69)29
3Marley and Me17 ($11.4M)6 ($3.3K)8 (59)7 (53)28
4Valkyrie44 ($6.6M)3 ($2.3K)7 (58)8 (56)22
5The Unborn-8 ($19.8M)9 ($8.4K)2 (12)2 (30)21
5Not Easily Broken-2 ($5.3M)8 ($7.3K)6 (42)5 (43)21
7Bride Wars-9 ($21.1M)7 ($6.5K)2 (12)1 (24)19
8Yes Man63 ($6.0M)2 ($2.0K)6 (42)6 (46)17
9Bedtime Stories65 ($8.8M)4 ($2.5K)3 (23)3 (33)15
10Seven Pounds91 ($3.8M)1 ($1.6K)4 (27)4 (36)10


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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