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|Box Office Power Rankings: A Preordained "Ghost Town"|
|Movies - Box Office Power Rankings|
|Written by Jeff Ignatius|
|Wednesday, 24 September 2008 02:18|
If you glance at the box-office top 10 this week, you might think that the supernatural romantic comedy Ghost Town was a bomb, finishing last among the four major new releases and eighth overall. But the movie's title was almost a self-fulfilling prophecy, as Paramount/DreamWorks only exhibited it in 1,505 theatres - a sure sign the studio doesn't believe in the movie. (Its opening-weekend competitors - Lakeview Terrace, Igor, and My Best Friend's Girl - were all released in more than 2,300 theatres.)
Given a wider release and more marketing money, Ghost Town would likely have been a modest hit, easily making back its $20-million production budget in theatres. Consider that it was second-best-reviewed movie in the top 10 (behind only The Dark Knight), and that audiences liked it, too. Yahoo! users rated it B+ (compared to grades of B and B- for the other three big releases), while users of the Internet Movie Database gave it a 7.5 out of 10 (compared to a range of 5.2 to 6.5 for the new-release competition).
It's unlikely that Ghost Town would have overtaken Burn After Reading in our Box Office Power Rankings this week with a more aggressive release, but its performance would have better reflected how people actually felt about it. This is a poster child for mis-released movies.
About Box Office Power Rankings
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. I assign equal weight to box office and critical opinion, with each having two components. The measures are: box-office gross, per-theatre average, Rotten Tomatoes (RottenTomatoes.com) score, and Metacritic (Metacritic.com) score.
Why those four? Box-office gross basically measures the number of people who saw a movie in a given weekend. Per-theatre 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.
For more Box Office Power Rankings, visit CultureSnob.com/bopr. Culture Snob is the Web site of Reader Managing Editor Jeff Ignatius.
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