erik lundegaard

The top 100 opening weekends

Much talk lately about Sex and the City’s $55 million opening weekend. Most ever for a movie starring a woman! So where does it rank on the opening-weekend list? Fifty-first. Meaning the top 50 opening weekends all starred men. Or ogres or mutants or robots or lost fish. So the very thing women are bragging about shows how tangential they’ve become in Hollywood. But Sex and the City gives hope that maybe someday they’ll be as important as ogres.

What else does the top 100 opening-weekend chart show us? Nearly half of the movies (46) are sequels. In fact, nine of the top 10 openers are sequels. (Only Spider-Man, at no. 4, still holds its spot.) And all but 11 of the top 100 were released this decade.

That’s right: As if we needed further evidence, this decade is all about opening. The oldest movie on the list is Batman Returns, at no. 92, which was released way back in June 1992 and made $45 million opening weekend. By the end of our current decade (if not by the end of our current year) it should be pushed off the top 100 to make room for its descendant, The Dark Knight, as well as Hancock and who knows what else. By the end of the decade 93-95 will be from the decade.

What’s intriguing about the older films is how much they didn’t rely on their opening weekends. The big movie from 1993, Jurassic Park, took in $47 million, or only 13 percent of its final domestic gross, opening weekend. Compare that with last year’s big film, Spider-Man 3, which took in $151 million, or 45% of its final domestic gross, opening weekend. So even 16 years ago, word-of-mouth still mattered. Now the idea is to make a killing opening weekend, when the studio's take is higher, and don’t fret what follows. Including moviegoers going, “Well, that was a waste of two hours.”

Equally intriguing is what films aren't on the list: Titanic, Star Wars... The biggees.

The following is a list of the top 10 opening weekends: Two Spider-Mans, two Pirates, two Shreks. Plus a Star Wars, an Indy, a Harry and an X-Men. It's a list that could use some women. Or something that doesn't remind me of the cinematic equivalent of a Big Mac.

 RankMovie Studio Opening % of Total 
 1 Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Sony 151,116,516  44.90%
 2 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
 BV135,634,554 32.00%
 3 Shrek the Third (2007)
 Par/DW121,629,270  37.70%
 4 Spider-Man (2002)
 Sony114,844,116
 28.40%
 5 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)
 BV114,732,820
 37,10%
 6 Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
 Fox108,435,841  28.50%
 7 Shrek 2 (2004)
 DW108,037,878 24.50%
 8 X-Men: The Last Stand (2005)
 Fox102,750,665
 43.80%
 9 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
 WB102,685,961  35.40%
 10 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
 Par100,137,835
 n/a

Posted at 03:32 PM on Wed. Jun 04, 2008 in category Movies - Box Office  
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