Steve’s Box Office Report: July 2008

Steve’s Box Office Report: July 2008

Top 10 Films for the Month of July: 

  1. The Dark Knight – $533,345,358
  2. Hancock – $227,946,274
  3. Mamma Mia! – $144,130,063
  4. Journey to the Center of the Earth – $101,704,370
  5. Step Brothers – $100,468,793
  6. Hellboy II: The Golden Army – $75,986,503
  7. Space Chimps – $30,105,968
  8. The X-Files: I Want to Believe – $20,982,478
  9. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl – $17,657,973
  10. Meet Dave – $11,803,254

Honorable Mentions:  

  1. Brideshead Revisited – $6,432,256

July Winners: The Dark Knight, Hancock, Mamma Mia!, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Step Brothers

As we cross the halfway point for the year 2008, it is pretty safe to say that the summer has been a pretty rousing success which isn’t too surprising given how poorly the year started. The bar that had been set was pretty low and May alone was enough to get things back on track, and now after June saw some big numbers the results remain the same here in July thanks to some big films. The first film released this month that easily makes it into this category is the superhero film the Dark Knight, the second in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy which sees Batman try to stop the Joker from causing chaos in Gotham City while coping with his inner struggle. After the success of Batman Begins, all signs pointed to this sequel rewriting the record books which it would by becoming one of the biggest films of the decade and considered by many one of the best Batman films in history which we will discuss later in the recap. The second film released this month that makes it into this category is another superhero film and that is Hancock, a film about a reckless superhero who is taken in by one of the people he saved and given a image makeover. As one of the lesser promoted superhero films released in a summer filled with them, the film would receive mixed reviews from critics though ended up succeeding and earned a good amount of money even with Hellboy and the Dark Knight released right after it. The third film released this month that makes it into this category is the musical film Mamma Mia!, based on the musical of the same name where a girl invites three men to her wedding since one is her potential father and is also based on the songs of pop group ABBA. Coming out on the same weekend as the Dark Knight, this film was looked at as counter-programming to the numerous superhero films out at the time and despite the mixed reviews, it was still pretty successful and ultimately became the highest-grossing musical film of all time at that moment. The next film released this month that makes it into this category is the fantasy adventure film Journey to the Center of the Earth, a film loosely based on the novel of the same name about a group who go into a dormant volcano and uncover a hidden world within Earth. This film was in an interesting spot being sandwiched in between numerous superhero films and seemed like it would be crushed under their weight, but due to the positive reviews it did just enough to make a small profit which would be enough to help it merit a sequel which we will dive into way down the road. The fifth and final film from this month that makes it into this category is the comedy Step Brothers, a film about two grown men who are forced to live with each other when their parents get married and they are forced to get jobs. With the comedies that came out in June starting to slow down a bit, this was a prime spot for a good comedy to make some money amidst all the superhero films and despite the mixed reviews, it would end up doing well and finished in the top 5 for the month. Needless to say, this ended up being one of the best months in quite a while as all the winners from this month were big money makers and continue to help propel 2008 up and continue a strong summer.

July Losers: Meet Dave

So much like the month of June, July ended up having a good amount of winners and the interesting question would be how many films would end up being included in this category. The remaining films that were released this month did not end up doing a ton in terms of money, but their budgets were either very small or modest enough that they either broke even or swayed very slightly that it wouldn’t be included in this category. Having said that, there is one film from this month that does make it into this category and that is the comedy Meet Dave, a film about a group of aliens who land on Earth in a ship that looks like a human and they recruit a family to help them save their planet. Unlike Step Brothers which managed to do pretty well despite all the superhero films that had come out, this film did the exact opposite as it would end up being one of the bigger bombs of the year and another disappointing outing for Eddie Murphy who was on a losing streak aside from Shrek. It is always interesting to see a month where there is only one or even no losers amongst the numerous winners it has, but it is always funny to see which one it is and that it usually does fairly badly in terms of the rest of the year.

The Surprise/Story of July 2008: Why so serious? The Dark Knight easily claims July 2008

So as I’m sure that you have probably noticed in reading through this recap thus far, I have made numerous notes to the fact that the summer of 2008 was the season of the superhero movie. Now while having multiple superhero films released in a year in not that uncommon, the fact that we have at least five major superhero films released over the last three months is very interesting. We had Iron Man in May which did very well, then we had the Incredible Hulk in June which was fairly moderate, and now we have three straight superhero films released in July with Hancock, Hellboy II, and the Dark Knight all coming out one after the other. At the end of the day, the month ended up belonging to the Dark Knight as the hype for this film was sky high and it ended up delivering in spades as it would overtake Iron Man as the top grossing film of the year to this point. It would also set the bar for future superhero movies to come and it looked like DC Comics would have the edge over Marvel despite them starting their Cinematic Universe, but we will see going forward if that holds true as it was pretty much expected that a third Batman film would be coming down the line.

Overachiever of July 2008: The Dark Knight

So back in 2003 when it was announced that Christopher Nolan would resurrect Batman for the big screen, it was pretty safe to say that he had an uphill battle to climb after the complete failure that was Batman and Robin. But when Batman Begins released in 2005, all the skeptics were silenced as the film would successfully revive the franchise and became the second highest grossing film in the franchise behind the original from 1989. Suffice to say that when the sequel was announced for 2008, expectations were at an all-time high especially when it was teased the Joker would be in the sequel. But then that positive feeling became sullen when Heath Ledger tragically passed away 6 months before the film’s release and the hype became even greater given that this was his final completed film. When the film came out, it was widely acclaimed by critics who considered it not only the best film of the year, but one of the best of the decade and one of the best superhero movies of all time with Ledger’s performance as the Joker singled out as one of the greatest. For the film to have this much success given that two other superhero films had come out the same month is a testament to how the film was received and therefore deserves to be named overachiever of the month as it would become the highest grossing film in the Batman franchise and DC franchise.

Underachiever of July 2008: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

When it comes to comic book adaptations, you mainly hear about the big two which are of course Marvel and DC while you don’t see many indie comic books adapted into films, and those that are don’t normally reach the heights of the big two. In 2004, one of these indie comics was adapted into a film and that was the character Hellboy, which would receive positive reviews from critics and made a decent amount of money. As a result, a sequel was approved and Hellboy II: The Golden Army came out which is about Hellboy trying to save the Earth from the mythical world. Like its predecessor, it would receive pretty positive reviews from critics and debuted at number one in its opening weekend, and it would end up finishing above its predecessor. However, there was a feeling that it should’ve done better given the positive reviews though being sandwiched between Hancock which did better than expected and the juggernaut that was the Dark Knight ended up hurting it in the long run. As a result, it would end up earning the title of the underachiever of the month though again this was a slightly weak underachiever in what ended up being a pretty hot month.

July 2008 Awards Watch: The Dark Knight, Mamma Mia!, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and Meet Dave

So after the year started strong with January having a lot of awards contenders, the next few months dipped pretty low in terms of the number of films that would make it into this category. Beginning in May, we have seen that number tick back up and it continues throughout this month as we have a decent amount of films that make it into this category. The first film from this month that makes it into this category is the Dark Knight which solidifies its status as one of the top films of the year, and it would win two Academy Awards (Best Supporting Actor and Best Sound Editing) while also being nominated for six more (Best Sound Mixing, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, Best Film Editing, and Best Visual Effects). However, it was pretty evident by the fact that it was snubbed for Best Picture despite being the highest grossing film of the year led to the Best Picture category expanding in nominees from 5 to at least 10. The film would also win one Golden Globe Award (Best Supporting Actor) which would just be one of the multiple Best Supporting Actor awards that Heath Ledger would win posthumously for his role as the Joker. The second film from this month that makes it into this category is Mamma Mia! which would be nominated for two Golden Globe Awards (Best Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress – Musical or Comedy) though it wouldn’t win either, and it was also nominated for one Golden Raspberry Award (Worst Supporting Actor) though it wouldn’t win that either. The third film from this month that makes it into this category is Hellboy II: The Golden Army which would be nominated for one Academy Award (Best Makeup) which it wouldn’t win, but the fact that it got a nod for an Academy Award has to be considered a win for this indie comic. The fourth and final film from this month that makes it into this category is Meet Dave which would be nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards (Worst Actor and Worst On-Screen Couple) though it wouldn’t win either as amazingly there was a worse film than that one. While it does seem like having only four films be in this category is a bit disappointing, but considering that one of them nabbed a lot of nominations was enough to consider it a solid month.

Overall Thoughts of July 2008:

So overall, it is pretty safe to say that the month of July was easily the best month for the year of 2008 and the peak of the summer. We have seen that this year started decently and fell off a cliff throughout the end of winter and into the spring, but since May the box office has been on an upward swing and this was the absolute peak of the year. We had 5 films from this month make it over $100 million with the Dark Knight crossing over $500 million and has set the standard for the year thus far though it would be hard to see anything else coming close to matching it let alone topping it. As mentioned, 2008 has been a very interesting year as it looked like it would flame out fairly quickly after a few dismal months, but now it was clear that the year would more than likely end up as a big success and would top 2007. As we head into August and the end of the summer, we will see if that month can end the summer on a high note and build momentum going into the fall. As for the month of July 2008, it is a very successful month and right now is on par to be the best month of the year while also being one of the best months of all time.

Final Grade: A+

Author: Steve Riddle

I have been a wrestling fan since 1993 and that is probably my biggest love, with movies being a close second due in part to being employed at a movie theater for over 9 years.