After many, many, many months of anticipatory hype (going all the way back to May of 2007 when we got our very first look at Heath Ledger as the Joker), the sequel to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins opened in theaters this weekend to incredible demand. The Dark Knight managed to not only enjoy the biggest opening weekend in box office history but it also set 7 other box office records as well. Spider-Man 3 previously owned the opening weekend box office record of $151.1 million until now … Batman: The Dark Knight generated $153.34 million this weekend, setting a new benchmark high:
A Warner Bros. executive says the Batman sequel “The Dark Knight” has taken in $155.34 million to top “Spider-Man 3″ for best opening weekend ever at the box office. The figures released Sunday show “The Dark Knight” more than $4 million ahead of the $151.1 million first weekend for “Spider-Man 3″ in May 2007. Studio distribution chief Dan Fellman says “The Dark Knight” also broke the “Spider-Man 3″ record for best debut in IMAX large-screen theaters with $6.2 million. “Spider-Man 3″ opened with $4.7 million in IMAX cinemas. Stoked by fan fever over the manic performance of the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, “The Dark Knight” also set a one-day box office record with $66.4 million on opening day, Fellman said Saturday. The movie’s Friday haul surpassed the previous record of $59.8 million set last year by “Spider-Man 3.” iReport.com: Did you see ‘Dark Knight’? “The Dark Knight” began with a record $18.5 million from midnight screenings, topping the previous high of $16.9 million for “Star Wars: Episode III — The Revenge of the Sith.” The opening day grosses for “The Dark Knight” far exceeded the full weekend haul of its predecessor, “Batman Begins,” which took in $48.7 million in its first three days in 2005. Reviews were excellent for director Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” but they were stellar for his “Dark Knight.” “We’ve really never seen anything like this,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. “The death of a fine actor taken in his prime, a legendary performance and a movie that lives up to all the hype. That all combined to create these record-breaking numbers.” Buzz had been high for the Batman sequel well before Ledger died of an accidental prescription-drug overdose in January. Trailers last fall revealing Ledger’s demented Joker, with crooked clown makeup, turned up the heat even more. The critical acclaim over his performance that built from advance screenings left fans in a frenzy. “It’s a combination of things. Certainly, that’s a great part of it, but I think this movie’s gross was partly because of the reviews it received and the incredible buzz and word of mouth that preceded it with our early screenings,” Fellman said. “And the success and quality of the last one, ‘Batman Begins,’ delivered by Chris Nolan just set the tone for the opening of this movie” … The film spins an epic crime duel as Ledger’s Joker orchestrates a reign of terror on the city of Gotham aimed to spread chaos and break down the restraint that keeps Batman on the right side of the law. Although critics are taking the film seriously enough to suggest that Ledger could be in line for an Academy Award nomination, the action-packed movie also delivers as pure summer movie escapism.
Here is a list of all the box office records set by The Dark Knight in its opening weekend:
1 – LARGEST NUMBER OF OPENING THEATRES WITH 4,366 (MORE THAN THE 4,362 DEBUT THEATRES OF PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END IN 2007).
2 – BIGGEST MIDNIGHT PREVIEW GROSS WITH $18.489 MILLION IN 3,040 THEATRES (BEATS STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH AND ITS $16.9 MILLION IN 2,915 THEATRES IN 2005).
3 – BIGGEST IMAX MIDNIGHT PREVIEWS SET AN NEW RECORD WITH $640,000 (INCLUDED IN THE $18.489 MILLION PREVIEW NUMBER).
4 – BIGGEST SINGLE-DAY GROSS IN BOX-OFFICE HISTORY WITH $67.850 MILLION (BESTS THE $59,841,919 SET BY SPIDER-MAN 3 IN 2007).
5 – BIGGEST OPENING WEEKEND GROSS IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY WITH $155.340 MILLION (BESTS THE $151,116 MILLION SET BY SPIDER-MAN 3 IN 2007).
6 – BIGGEST OPENING WEEKEND GROSS FOR AN IMAX RELEASE IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY WITH $6,214,061 MILLION IN 94 THEATRES WITH $66,107 PER THEATRE. (BESTS THE $4.7 MILLION SET BY SPIDER-MAN 3 IN 2007.) IMAX SHOWING AT FULL CAPACITY $1.9 MILLION ON SATURDAY ALONE.
7 – BIGGEST OPENING WEEKEND OF 2008 WITH $151.340 (BEATS INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL’S $101.137 MILLION FROM MAY 23-25, 2008)
8 – BIGGEST JULY OPENING EVER (BEATS PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST’S $135,634,554 ON JULY 7, 2006).
I, for one, am not at all surprised by this stellar performance at the box office. In fact, I would’ve been surprised had The Dark Knight not surpassed the previous opening weekend box office record. I contend that the film will go on to make gads of money in the coming weeks … there are still many people out there who have yet to see the film (primarily because the majority of this weekend’s showings were completely sold out). As a huge Batman fan, I’m thrilled. My wish is that TDK and Heath Leger, in particular, will go on to enjoy recognition from the Academy come awards season. It’s a long shot but stranger things have happened. If Juno can garner Academy Award noms, then so can The Dark Knight.0