Sunday, August 10, 2008

Joining the Trend of Armchair Box Office Prognostication

So here we are. Week 4 of the summer belonging to "The Dark Knight," and it still has its hold on the number one weekend box office spot. We all knew it was going to make money, but this much money? To provide perspective, it currently has grossed about $441.5 million. Another twenty million, and it surpasses the original "Star Wars" as the second highest-grossing film of all time. However, in reality, it already has. See, the first "Star Wars" (or, Episode IV if you want to play THAT game) has been re-released twice since 1977, and its spot as the second highest-grossing film of all time is reflective of all three of its runs in theaters.

Also, everybody seems to be pissing and moaning about how if you account for inflation (!!!), "The Dark Knight" is nowhere near the highest grossing movie of all time. I say, shut up about that. Why? If we accounted for inflation, "Gone With The Wind" would be the highest-grossing film of all time, and there are few people who really want that, I would like to think. Seriously, that movie sucked. Call me callous, but I laughed my ass off when the little girl got her shit pushed by the horse.

So, where does that leave us in terms of modern-day money? Once TDK claims second place, all that's left is "Titanic," with $600 million even, domestically. The big question now is, can the most overrated movie of all time actually be defeated by a superhero movie? As sad as it makes me to say, I don't think so.

To wit: When released in late 1997, "Titanic" was number one for something like thirteen or fourteen weekends in a row. That's unheard of in this day and age, where tentpole movies come out nearly every week. Also consider that "Titanic" came out in December, and at the end of the month. That meant that during January, February and March, typically months of the year where nothing of value is newly released, there was no direct competition to stop it from making $30 million each weekend, week after week. "The Dark Knight" has done well, but there's been stiff competition, and odds are when "Tropic Thunder" comes out Wednesday, it won't hold yet another week.

Another factor is that there are still people who don't want to see "The Dark Knight." I was little when "Titanic" came out, but I distinctly remember that everyone and their brother had seen it. Personally, even at the time I didn't get it, I thought that "Twister," which came out earlier that year, was cooler, and to this day I stand by that opinion proudly. Regardless, "Titanic" had one distinct advantage that TDK lacks: the female demographic. Now, this is one of my favorite Hollywood misconceptions. Every executive seems to think that women don't see movies, and when a female-skewing movie makes bank, it shocks the shit out of everybody. I don't get that. Look at this summer alone: "Sex and the City" has made $150 million to date (and I've still been able to avoid it, knock on wood), and "Mamma Mia!" just broke the hundred-million mark this weekend. For further proof, look at "The Devil Wears Prada" and "The Notebook" in past summers. TDK hasn't cornered this demographic, and that might be the one Achilles heel that stops it from taking the record.

However, there is one glimmer of hope that few people have talked about as of yet. Traditionally, Oscar nominees, especially those up for Best Picture, are re-released if they've been out of theaters for some time. Now, in addition to the need for a Supporting Actor nod for Heath Ledger, and probably one for Best Original Screenplay as well, the clamor for a Best Picture nomination is getting louder. If this happens, "The Dark Knight" would return to theaters a few months after leaving them, which would probably lead to increased interest in an additional viewing for a lot of moviegoers. That would be the one trump card that might just push it over the edge. However, with $160 million to go, it's still a long shot.

(Final note: I realized I said before that I was done talking about TDK, but who the fuck am I kidding? I'm a fanboy, deep down. Just wait until March 6th, 2009. I'll never shut up at that point.)

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