Box Office Power Rankings: April 17-26, 2009

wolverine.jpgThank Gods (I’ve been watching Battlestar Galactica, although to say I’ve been enjoying it would be an overstatement) that with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the summer movie season is finally here. Normally, I would need Entertainment Weekly to tell me this, but our subscription lapsed. So I have to rely on the Wolverine television ads, which actually claim that those muttonchops are the first sign of the season.

Wolverine did well enough in its opening weekend, with $85 million domestically, but I’m afraid it might actually be an appropriate opener for summer 2009: the next installment of an established brand, and a movie that seems to excite very few people. Yes, they show up and pay their money the first weekend, but I think it’s out of habit. Call it obligation cinema.

Perhaps I’m just being old and sour, because it’s not like this is a new trend. But this summer seems particularly grim from a movie perspective. A Transformers sequel and G.I. Joe mean that we’re long past my nostalgia period, while Land of the Lost as a summer movie seems like an unfathomably bad idea. We have the fourth Terminator, the sixth Harry Potter, the 11th Star Trek, the 10th Halloween, the third Ice Age, the second Night at the Museum, and the Da Vinci Code prequel Angels and Demons.

How many people actually loved the most-recent chapter in any of these series? I’m not complaining that the season is sequel-heavy, in other words; I’m complaining that the summer tent poles belong to franchises that should have been allowed to die with a modicum of dignity. (Yes, I recognize that one can’t euthanize Harry Potter before J.K. Rowling intended, but I’ve been underwhelmed since that which we call Ass Cabin.)

Remember Godzilla, from 1998? It stank, and was heard from nevermore. But with a worldwide gross of almost $380 million, it would certainly merit a sequel or the fashionable “re-launch” these days, because the name recognition is simply too high.

All this has nothing to do with the two sets of Box Office Power Rankings included here, won by State of Play and Earth.

Unless, of course, you want to make a joke about these Box Office Power Rankings being completely unnecessary and unwanted sequels.

Box Office Power Rankings: April 17-19, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1State of Play-9 ($14.1M)9 ($5.0K)10 (84)9 (64)37
217 Again-10 ($23.7M)10 ($7.3K)6 (56)6 (48)32
3Monsters Vs. Aliens17 ($13.2M)7 ($3.6K)8 (73)8 (56)30
4Hannah Montana: The Movie28 ($13.4M)8 ($4.3K)4 (44)5 (47)25
5I Love You, Man32 ($3.3M)3 ($1.5K)9 (81)10 (70)24
6Crank: High Voltage-5 ($7.0M)5 ($3.1K)7 (61)3 (41)20
6Observe and Report44 ($4.2M)4 ($1.5K)5 (52)7 (54)20
8Fast and Furious56 ($11.8M)6 ($3.2K)2 (27)4 (45)18
9Knowing73 ($3.6M)2 ($1.5K)3 (34)3 (41)11
10The Haunting in Connecticut101 ($3.1M)1 ($1.4K)1 (19)1 (33)4
Box Office Power Rankings: April 24-26, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Earth-6 ($8.8M)9 ($4.9K)10 (85)10 (72)35
2The Soloist-7 ($9.7M)8 ($4.8K)6 (58)8 (61)29
3State of Play14 ($6.8M)4 ($2.4K)9 (84)9 (64)26
417 Again29 ($11.5M)6 ($3.5K)5 (56)5 (48)25
4Fighting-8 ($11.0M)7 ($4.8K)3 (36)7 (60)25
6Monsters Vs. Aliens35 ($8.5M)5 ($2.5K)8 (73)6 (56)24
7Obsessed-10 ($28.6M)10 ($11.4K)1 (20)1 (25)22
8Hannah Montana: The Movie43 ($6.4M)3 ($2.0K)4 (44)4 (47)14
9Crank: High Voltage61 ($2.6M)1 ($1.2K)7 (61)2 (41)11
10Fast and Furious82 ($6.2M)2 ($1.7K)2 (27)3 (45)9

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.

The summer blockbuster season isn’t shaping up so well. Star Trek is the only Hollywood product I can recommend so far. Terminator was my next hope but was even more awful than I could have guessed. It’s down hill from here.

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