The much-maligned alien creature of the new Star Wars movie has trumped the oh-so-adorable alien creature of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. With another $4.2 million at the weekend box office, Phantom Menace raised its overall take to $402.8 million, passing 1982's E.T. ($399.8 million) for No. 3 on the all-timer earners list.
Well, all right, Jar Jar didn't do it by himself, but the poor guy could use a pep talk.
"This has been an incredible ride for all of us here at Fox," Tom Sherak, the studio's film-group chairman, says in a statement. "We have been privileged to be a part of the continuing Star Wars phenomenon."
And continuing it is. Nearly 10 weeks after its release, Phantom Menace is still earning just under a $1 million a day, says Paul Dergarabedian of Exhibitor Relations Inc.
"At first people thought it would [only] start out big...but the film has continued to do well and has continued to play," Dergarabedian says. "It's just one of those perfect summer movies. There's always a place for it in the plans of a lot of moviegoers."
But "amazing run" or no, it looks like Phantom Menace will have to settle for third place among the legendary box-office champs. The next rung up the ladder is the original Star Wars, at $460 million. With many theater owners soon to be free of their 12-week obligations with Lucasfilm, scrounging up another $60 million seems a task beyond even the most capable Jedi Knight.
It's worth noting that the box-office totals for the first Star Wars includes ticket sales not just from its 1977 run, but from its big-bucks 1997 rerelease, as well. Phantom Menace, then, is actually the No. 2 all-time earner (first-run division), behind indisputable king Titanic ($600.7 million).
With its weekend take, Phantom Menace also becomes only the third movie to pass the $400 million mark at the domestic box office.
Somewhere Jar Jar is smiling. The dork.