Tropic Thunder Ends Batman’s Reign

LOS ANGELES ~ Ben Stiller comedy Tropic Thunder dethroned Batman sequel The Dark Knight from the top spot at North American box offices at the weekend, final figures showed.

Stiller’s movie-within-a-movie about a group of actors shooting a war film in the middle of a real-life conflict zone scooped US$25.8 million on its opening weekend, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

That gave Tropic Thunder – which also stars Robert Downey Jr and Jack Black – five-day earnings of $36.8 million.

It came after the film’s premiere saw protests from disability activists who lambasted Stiller for repeated use of the word retard in the script. Stiller has defended the movie, insisting that it is a satire on Hollywood.

Tropic Thunder’s success knocked The Dark Knight off of top spot after four weeks of dominance for director Christopher Nolan’s superhero blockbuster.

But The Dark Knight, which features Christian Bale as the caped crusader and Heath Ledger as his arch-villain Joker, earned another $16.4 million, enough to take the film past Star Wars as the second highest-grossing movie of all time after 1997’s Titanic.

The Dark Knight has now raked in a cool $471 million since opening in mid-July, but is still way off Titanic’s mammoth all time record haul of $601 million.

Ironically, the milestone came on the same weekend as the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars arrived in US theaters. The latest offering from George Lucas’s moneyspinning franchise opened in third with $14.6 million.

A new Hollywood remake of a cult Asian horror film Mirrors, starring Kiefer Sutherland, was in fourth spot with $11.1 million.

In fifth place was the marijuana comedy Pineapple Express, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, which earned $9.8 million.

Critically panned action-adventure The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was sixth with $8.2 million, ahead of Abba musical remake Mamma Mia!, which earned $6 million.

Rounding out the top 10 were The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 with $5.8 million, ahead of comedy Step Brothers with $4.8 million.

Woody Allen’s latest film, romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona was 10th with $3.7 million, although it was screened in fewer than 700 theaters nationwide.

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