Box Office Power Rankings: February 20-March 1, 2009

madea-jail.jpgI’ve often pointed out in the Box Office Power Rankings when I’ve thought a movie had a poor release strategy, and in that spirit I have to wonder why Tyler Perry’s movies are still only being released at 2,000 sites. His last five movies have opened in about that many theaters, and their first-weekend grosses have ranged from $17 million to $41 million.

The worst performer among those movies earned nearly $8,400 per theater in its opening weekend, which is just a hair shy of what The Day the Earth Stood Still did in its debut. The new Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail topped $20,000 per theater, better than anything since Milk the last weekend of November and barely eclipsed by Twilight in its first three days. Give Tyler Perry some damned screens!

Requisite negativity aside, has there been a movie in recent memory that’s had a better release pattern than Slumdog Millionaire? It has earned $115 million on a production budget of $15 million, and its domestic gross has risen in 12 of the 15 weekends (80 percent) since its debut. Yes, it has been opportunistic, taking advantage of well-timed awards and nominations, but it takes a special touch to navigate the vagaries of the cinematic marketplace so well over such a long period of time.

For Best Picture comparison’s sake, Milk’s gross has gone up in eight of its 13 post-debut weekends (62 percent); The Reader six or eight (depending on whether you count holiday Mondays) of 11 (55 or 73 percent); Frost/Nixon five of its 12 (42 percent); and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button one of nine (11 percent).

Box Office Power Rankings: February 20-23, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Coraline19 ($11.4M)9 ($5.3K)9 (89)9 (79)36
2Slumdog Millionaire46 ($8.4M)8 ($3.7K)10 (94)10 (86)34
3Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail-10 ($41.0M)10 ($20.2K)4 (29)7 (50)31
4Taken28 ($11.3M)7 ($3.6K)8 (56)7 (50)30
5He’s Just Not That Into You37 ($8.6M)5 ($2.8K)6 (42)5 (47)23
6The International61 ($4.5M)1 ($1.9K)7 (53)8 (52)17
7Fired Up!-2 ($5.5M)6 ($3.0K)5 (30)1 (31)14
8Paul Blart: Mall Cop84 ($6.8M)2 ($2.4K)3 (28)4 (39)13
9Friday the 13th55 ($7.9M)3 ($2.6K)2 (27)2 (34)12
10Confessions of a Shopaholic73 ($6.7M)4 ($2.7K)1 (21)3 (38)11
Box Office Power Rankings: February 27-March 1, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Slumdog Millionaire28 ($12.0M)7 ($4.1K)10 (94)10 (86)35
2Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail310 ($16.2M)9 ($7.9K)3 (27)8 (50)30
2Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience-9 ($12.5M)10 ($9.8K)6 (31)5 (46)30
4Taken47 ($9.9M)6 ($3.2K)8 (56)8 (50)29
5Coraline14 ($5.3M)5 ($2.5K)9 (89)9 (79)27
6He’s Just Not That Into You56 ($6.0M)4 ($2.1K)7 (42)6 (47)23
7Paul Blart: Mall Cop85 ($5.6M)3 ($2.1K)4 (29)4 (39)16
8Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li-3 ($4.7M)8 ($4.2K)1 (6)1 (21)13
9Fired Up!71 ($3.7M)2 ($2.0K)5 (30)2 (31)10
10Confessions of a Shopaholic102 ($4.6M)1 ($1.8K)2 (22)3 (38)8

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.

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