Box Office Power Rankings: August 28-October 11, 2009

paranormal.jpgOver the past seven weekends, Culture Snob’s Box Office Power Rankings were won by Quentin Tarantino (twice), Tyler Perry, Meatballs (twice), and zombies (twice). No one could have possibly known that until now, however, because apparently I’ve been in a coma.

What did I miss? Well, there was a flood of new releases, with 24 movies debuting in the box-office top 10 over the seven weeks. Thankfully if inexplicably, only Couples Retreat opened wide this past weekend, allowing Paranormal Activity to grab the spotlight, earning almost $8 million at a mere 160 theaters.

The homemade, low-budget horror movie has drawn a lot of comparisons to The Blair Witch Project 10 years ago, and with good reason.

The Blair Witch Project: initial budget of between $20,000 and $25,000; Rotten Tomatoes score of 85; Metacritic score of 81.

Paranormal Activity: initial budget of $11,000; Rotten Tomatoes score of 86; Metacritic score of 68.

Blair Witch’s rollout started at 27 theaters and increased to 2,142 by its fourth weekend, generating $11,000 per site by the time of that wide release. (Over the past seven weeks, only two top-10 movies had weekends with a per-theater average of more than $10,000.) Paranormal Activity’s release is more gradual, with 760 sites this coming weekend — its fourth.

A key difference, though, is when each movie generated its buzz. Blair Witch’s per-theater averages were $56,000, $64,000, $27,000, and then $11,000. In other words, anticipation was there before the movie opened anywhere. Paranormal has presumably built excitement more through word-of-mouth, with per-theater averages of $6,000 and $16,000 before last weekend’s $49,000.

Box Office Power Rankings: August 28-30, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Inglourious Basterds29 ($19.3M)9 ($6.1K)9 (88)9 (69)36
2District 917 ($10.3M)7 ($3.2K)10 (90)10 (80)34
3Julie and Julia35 ($7M)6 ($2.8K)8 (75)8 (66)27
4The Final Destination-10 ($27.4M)10 ($8.8K)3 (29)1 (30)24
5Taking Woodstock-2 ($3.5M)5 ($2.5K)7 (51)7 (55)21
5Halloweeen II-8 ($16.3M)8 ($5.4K)1 (21)4 (46)21
7G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra76 ($7.7M)4 ($2.2K)5 (36)2 (32)17
7The Time Traveler’s Wife54 ($6.5M)3 ($2.2K)5 (36)5 (47)17
9Shorts63 ($4.5M)1 ($1.5K)6 (45)6 (53)16
10G-Force81 ($2.8M)2 ($1.5K)2 (24)3 (41)8
Box Office Power Rankings: September 4-7, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Inglourious Basterds19 ($15M)7 ($4.5K)9 (88)9 (69)34
2District 926 ($9.1M)5 ($2.9K)10 (90)10 (80)31
3The Final Destination410 ($15.3M)9 ($4.9K)4 (29)3 (30)26
4Julie and Julia35 ($7.1M)4 ($2.8K)8 (75)8 (66)25
5Extract-2 ($5.5M)6 ($3.4K)7 (64)7 (61)22
6Gamer-7 ($11.2M)8 ($4.5K)4 (29)2 (27)21
7All About Steve-8 ($14.1M)10 ($6.2K)1 (7)1 (17)20
8G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra73 ($6.7M)3 ($2.4K)6 (36)4 (32)16
9The Time Traveler’s Wife71 ($5.5M)1 ($2K)6 (36)6 (47)14
10Halloweeen II54 ($6.9M)2 ($2.2K)2 (21)5 (46)13
Box Office Power Rankings: September 11-13, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself-10 ($23.4M)10 ($10.4K)7 (64)6 (55)33
2Inglourious Basterds18 ($6.1M)6 ($1.9K)9 (88)9 (69)32
39-9 ($10.7M)9 ($6.5K)6 (56)7 (60)31
4District 923 ($3.5M)3 ($1.4K)10 (90)10 (80)26
5The Final Destination36 ($5.5M)7 ($2K)5 (29)5 (30)23
6Julie and Julia41 ($3.2M)2 ($1.3K)8 (75)8 (66)19
7All About Steve77 ($5.6M)8 ($2.5K)2 (7)1 (17)18
8Sorority Row-5 ($5.1M)5 ($1.9K)3 (25)2 (24)15
9Whiteout-4 ($4.9M)4 ($1.8K)1 (6)4 (28)13
10Gamer62 ($3.3M)1 ($1.3K)5 (29)3 (27)11
Box Office Power Rankings: September 18-20, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs-10 ($30.3M)10 ($9.7K)9 (85)9 (66)38
2The Informant!-9 ($10.5M)7 ($4.2K)8 (76)9 (66)33
3Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself18 ($9.9M)9 ($4.4K)7 (64)6 (55)30
4Inglourious Basterds24 ($3.8M)3 ($1.5K)10 (88)10 (69)27
5935 ($5.6M)6 ($2.7K)6 (56)7 (60)24
6Love Happens-7 ($8.1M)8 ($4.2K)2 (17)4 (33)21
6Jennifer’s Body-6 ($6.9M)5 ($2.5K)5 (42)5 (47)21
8The Final Destination51 ($2.4M)2 ($1.3K)4 (29)3 (30)10
9All About Steve73 ($3.4M)4 ($1.6K)1 (8)1 (17)9
10Sorority Row82 ($2.5M)1 ($1K)3 (25)2 (24)8
Box Office Power Rankings: September 25-27, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs110 ($25M)10 ($8K)9 (85)9 (66)38
2The Informant!27 ($6.6M)7 ($2.6K)8 (76)9 (66)31
3Surrogates-9 ($14.9M)9 ($5.1K)4 (39)4 (45)26
4Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself36 ($4.8M)5 ($2.2K)7 (64)6 (55)24
5Inglourious Basterds41 ($2.7M)2 ($1.4K)10 (88)10 (69)23
6Fame-8 ($10M)8 ($3.2K)3 (29)3 (39)22
7952 ($3M)3 ($1.5K)6 (56)7 (60)18
8Jennifer’s Body63 ($3.7M)1 ($1.3K)5 (42)5 (47)14
9Love Happens64 ($4.3M)6 ($2.3K)1 (17)2 (33)13
10Pandorum-5 ($4.4M)4 ($1.8K)2 (28)1 (28)12
Box Office Power Rankings: October 2-4, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Zombieland-10 ($24.7M)10 ($8.1K)9 (88)9 (73)38
2Toy Story/Toy Story 2-8 ($12.5M)9 ($7.2K)10 (100)10 (96)37
3Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs19 ($15.8M)8 ($5.3K)8 (85)7 (66)32
4Whip It-5 ($4.7M)5 ($2.7K)7 (81)8 (67)25
5The Invention of Lying-6 ($7M)6 ($4.1K)4 (56)4 (58)20
5Capitalism: A Love Story-3 ($4.4M)7 ($4.6K)5 (74)5 (60)20
7The Informant!22 ($3.7M)3 ($1.5K)6 (76)7 (66)18
8Surrogates37 ($7.2M)4 ($2.5K)3 (39)3 (45)17
9Fame64 ($4.6M)2 ($1.5K)2 (29)2 (39)10
10Love Happens91 ($2.7M)1 ($1.4K)1 (17)1 (33)4
Box Office Power Rankings: October 9-11, 2009
Box Office RanksCritics’ Ranks
RankMovieLast WeekGrossPer TheaterRotten TomatoesMetacriticTotal
1Zombieland19 ($14.8M)8 ($4.9K)9 (88)9 (73)35
2Toy Story/Toy Story 226 ($7.8M)7 ($4.4K)10 (100)10 (96)33
2Paranormal Activity-7 ($7.9M)10 ($49.4K)8 (86)8 (68)33
4Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs38 ($11.5M)6 ($3.9K)7 (85)6 (66)27
5Couples Retreat-10 ($34.3M)9 ($11.4K)1 (12)1 (23)21
6Whip It43 ($2.8M)3 ($1.6K)6 (81)7 (67)19
7Capitalism: A Love Story52 ($2.6M)5 ($2.6K)5 (74)5 (60)17
8The Invention of Lying54 ($3.3M)4 ($1.9K)4 (56)4 (58)16
9Surrogates85 ($4.3M)2 ($1.4K)3 (39)3 (45)13
10Fame91 ($2.5M)1 ($0.8K)2 (29)2 (39)6

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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