The Dark Knight Rewrites the Box Office Record Book

The Reject Report: July 18

Holy box-office, Batman! Yes, I just could not resist using that hokey line to begin this box office edition of the Reject Report, but I couldn’t help it.

Besides, it illustrates the point that the old, campy Adam West-Burt Ward “Batman” days were a LONG time ago. Now, it’s all about Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, and a darker and scarier Batman franchise. And the latest instalment has cleaned up like no Batman movie has done before. The Dark Knight is the biggest hit of 2008 and has etched a place in the record books as the biggest opening of all time. You couldn’t keep up with all the records that kept on falling this weekend at theaters all over North America.

In order, here are the records that The Dark Knight toppled this weekend:

Christian Bale as Batman in The Dark Knight1. Record opening in 4,366 theaters.

2. An opening-day midnight record of $18.5 million, topping the $16.9 million midnight take of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

3. The big one: both the opening day and the Friday records were smashed as The Dark Knight hauled in $67.8 Million dollars!!! That’s even more than first reported! That record haul is way ahead of the $59 million brought in by Spider-Man 3 during its opening day. The Dark Knight goes in the record books for the biggest single-day total for any movie ever made.

4. And now. on the heels of a $48 million haul on Saturday and a projected $39 million take on Sunday, The Dark Knight has toppled Spider-Man 3’s opening record of $151 million to be the biggest opening of all time. The wires are reporting that The Dark Knight made $155.3 million, based on the Warner studio’s estimates.

I notice Nikki Finke’s site is reporting some of the rival studios are questioning the final numbers, claiming they’re inflated. You know, it wouldn’t surprise me, we’ve seen stuff happen before where studios would release inflated figures so that they can grab more headlines in the press. It may well be a much closer finish than is being reported. But at this point in time it appears the opening weekend record has fallen by the wayside.

5. Needless to say: The Dark Knight’s opening weekend shatters the previous bests by Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($100 million) and Iron Man ($98 million). In all likelihood The Dark Knight will be this summer’s box office champ, and by a wide margin.

6. Warner Brothers reports the $6.2 million haul in IMAX theaters this weekend topped the $4.7 million record by Spider-Man 3. So that’s another record set by the Caped Crusader. There was also a record set in the midnight IMAX gross at $640,000.

As for you Spider-Man fans, you will be happy to know that Spidey’s Saturday record of $51 million remains intact. Otherwise, this was definitely the “weekend of the Batman.” And it will likely be “the weeks of the Batman” ahead as this movie promises to make loads of money for the next many days. The only thing stopping this movie is all the whining and bellyaching I keep reading about from all these parents claiming this movie is too scary and too violent for kids. So they probably won’t show up!

Well, maybe the movie was scary and violent, but it sure is different from all the kids movies and Disney efforts we have seen at the theaters on a regular basis. We’re moving away from the “family” portion of the summer and head-first into the more adult stuff. Also, I’m not surprised that the Friday numbers were absolutely through the roof. When you have a movie that opened in as many midnight showings as this movie did, not to mention all the 3am and 6am screenings — well, you can imagine what the box office was going to be.

As for the rest of the box office, Mamma Mia! opened surprisingly well at $27.6 million, bringing in all the patrons who didn’t care at all about superheroes. That $27.6 haul would represent the biggest opening ever for a musical, beating the $27.4 set by Hairspray.

So much for my thoughts that Mamma Mia! would be roadkill in front of the Batmobile. Instead, that dubious honor goes to Hellboy II, as it dropped off something like 71 per cent down to $10 million!!!! Ouch! But I don’t think this is too surprising, as everyone expected bad things to happen to Hellboy II with The Dark Knight rolling out this week.

The top 10 weekend box office estimates are as follows:

1. The Dark Knight $155.3 million
2. Mamma Mia! $27.6 million
3. Hancock $14 million
4. Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D $11.9 million
5. Hellboy II: The Golden Army $10 million
6. WALL-E $9.8 million
7. Space Chimps
$7.3 million
8. Wanted $5 million
9. Get Smart
$4 million
10. Kung Fu Panda $1.7 million

As well, the dismal Meet Dave took in $1.6 million and Indiana Jones 4 took in $970,000, so the top 12 movies at the box office brought in a haul of $249 million, making this the biggest overall 3-day weekend of all time, beating the $218-million weekend of July 7, 2006.

Recession? What recession?! What a record setting weekend this was at the box office. I know there’s been inflation and all that, but this truly is impressive.

What else is there to say? I’m pretty much speechless.

And the story is far from over. Stay tuned for my next Reject Report where we see whether The Dark Knight domination continues again, as it rolls toward winning the box office title for 2008. Also, we’ll see if anyone bothers to show up to see Step Brothers. Maybe more than a few.

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