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Box Office Power Rankings: Welcome to Summer PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Box Office Power Rankings
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 17 April 2009 06:00

fast-and-furious.jpg

A run of sequels is supposed to die a slow death, with waning interest as a series progresses. What, then, explains the $71-million opening-weekend take of Fast and Furious?

I know everybody has already forgotten the damned thing exists, but I’m still awed by that number. It’s a third sequel in a franchise nobody gets excited about, and it tops the series’ previous best start by $20 million.

Given the relatively dim star power of Vin Diesel, Paul, Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster, it can’t be attributed to their returns. So what is it?

Here’s my hypothesis: Fast and Furious isn’t a spring movie; it has marked the beginning of summer 2009.

Consider that its opening weekend was just $17 million short of Spider-Man 2’s summer 2004 debut. It’s also the biggest April opening ever — by nearly $30 million. You shall know it by the company it keeps, and these are not just summer numbers, but good summer numbers. The two Fantastic Four movies opened with $56 million and $58 million.

I had assumed that the season this year would start May 1 (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, followed the next weekend by Star Trek), but my calendar is apparently all screwed up.

You might remember that Fast and Furious was originally slated for a June 12 release. Perhaps this is evidence that summer is an attitude, not a date range.

Alas, neither Fast and Furious nor Hannah Montana: The Movie could translate their box-office wins into Box Office Power Rankings victories. With the lowest winning scores since early January (32 out of 40) and December (31), Monsters Vs. Aliens notched two more titles. This is a demonstration of the field’s weakness rather than that movie’s strength.

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.net/bopr. Culture Snob is the Web site of Reader Managing Editor Jeff Ignatius.

Box Office Power Rankings: April 3-5, 2009

Box Office Ranks Critics’ Ranks
Rank Movie Last Week Gross Per Theater Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Total
1 Monsters Vs. Aliens 1 9 ($32.6M) 9 ($7.9K) 8 (73) 6 (56) 32
2 Adventureland - 5 ($5.7M) 6 ($3.1K) 10 (88) 10 (76) 31
3 I Love You, Man 2 6 ($7.7M) 5 ($2.7K) 9 (80) 9 (70) 29
4 Fast and Furious - 10 ($71.0M) 10 ($20.5K) 3 (26) 4 (45) 27
5 Sunshine Cleaning - 1 ($1.8M) 8 ($3.8K) 7 (70) 7 (61) 23
6 Duplicity 3 4 ($4.2M) 3 ($1.7K) 6 (66) 8 (69) 21
7 The Haunting in Connecticut 4 8 ($9.5M) 7 ($3.5K) 2 (20) 1 (33) 18
7 Knowing 4 7 ($8.1M) 4 ($2.5K) 4 (34) 3 (41) 18
9 Race to Witch Mountain 7 3 ($3.2M) 2 ($1.1K) 5 (42) 5 (52) 15
10 12 Rounds 9 2 ($2.3M) 1 ($1.0K) 2 (20) 2 (37) 7
Box Office Power Rankings: April 10-12, 2009

Box Office Ranks Critics’ Ranks
Rank Movie Last Week Gross Per Theater Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Total
1 Monsters Vs. Aliens 1 8 ($21.8M) 8 ($5.3K) 8 (73) 7 (56) 31
2 Hannah Montana: The Movie - 10 ($32.3M) 10 ($10.4K) 5 (46) 5 (48) 30
3 I Love You, Man 3 5 ($6.3M) 6 ($2.4K) 9 (80) 9 (70) 29
4 Observe and Report - 7 ($11.0M) 7 ($4.0K) 6 (52) 6 (54) 26
5 Fast and Furious 4 9 ($27.2M) 9 ($7.8K) 3 (26) 3 (45) 24
5 Adventureland 2 2 ($3.4M) 2 ($1.8K) 10 (88) 10 (76) 24
7 Knowing 7 6 ($6.4M) 5 ($2.2K) 4 (34) 2 (41) 17
7 Duplicity 6 1 ($3.0M) 1 ($1.5K) 7 (66) 8 (69) 17
9 Dragonball Evolution - 3 ($4.8M) 4 ($2.2K) 1 (14) 4 (47) 12
10 The Haunting in Connecticut 7 4 ($5.9M) 3 ($2.2K) 2 (20) 1 (33) 10
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