"Tropic Thunder" bumps Batman off box office perch

Sun Aug 17, 2008 5:15pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Big-screen Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. scored his second No. 1 movie of the summer on Sunday as Hollywood spoof "Tropic Thunder" ended the month-long reign of "The Dark Knight" atop the North American box office.

"Tropic Thunder," a farcical combat movie within a comedy that also stars Ben Stiller and Jack Black, grossed $26 million during its first weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters, bringing its five-day estimated total from Wednesday's opening to $37 million.

Downey who appears in the film in blackface, portraying a white actor playing a black action hero, also starred in the summer's first chart-topping movie, Marvel Studios' "Iron Man."

The superhero drama, which like "Tropic Thunder" was distributed by Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures, grossed nearly $99 million its opening weekend in May.

In "Tropic Thunder," Downey, Stiller and Black star as self-absorbed Hollywood actors caught up in a real-life battle with narco-terrorists while filming a war movie in Southeast Asia. The film was directed, co-written and co-produced by Stiller.

The blockbuster Batman sequel "The Dark Knight" slipped to No. 2 with $16.8 million in ticket sales in its fifth weekend of release but broke yet another commercial barrier along the way by becoming the second-highest-grossing film ever, according to box office tracking service Media By Numbers.


"The Dark Knight," starring Christian Bale as Batman and the late Heath Ledger as the villainous Joker in his last completed role, has now amassed more than $471 million in domestic ticket sales. That tally ranks second only to the $601 million grossed by all-time champion "Titanic."   Continued...

<p>Actor Robert Downey Jr. (R) is shown wearing blackface in a scene with co-star Ben Stiller from the upcoming film "Tropic Thunder" in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters August 11, 2008. REUTERS/Merie Weismiller Wallace/Dreamworks LLC/Handout</p>