‘The Dark Knight’ triumphs: $66.4 million on Friday

July 19, 2008 | 8:11 p.m.

christian bale as batman in The Dark KnightEveryone in Hollywood is shaking their heads in marvel at "The Dark Knight." It looks like the film is headed to a historic opening weekend. The Associated Press story has the math about all-time top-grossing Men in Tights, Batman and Spider-Man:

Batman’s joust with the Joker has set another box office record.

Stoked by fan fever over the manic performance of the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, "The Dark Knight" set a one-day box-office record with $66.4 million on opening day, Warner Bros. head of distribution Dan Fellman said Saturday.

The movie’s Friday haul surpassed the previous record of $59.8 million set last year by "Spider-Man 3." "The Dark Knight" might break the opening-weekend record of $151.1 million, also held by "Spider-Man 3."

more round-up after the jump

Over at the Deadline Hollywood blog, the always-caffeinated Nikki Finke is spinning like a top over the numbers, which do indeed look huge.

SATURDAY AM: Well, look who’s laughing now! Warner Bros, because The Dark Knight‘s Friday opening was even bigger than first thought, according to final numbers — $66.4M in North American gross from a record-setting wide release of 4,366 theaters. That includes the record-setting $18.5M in midnight-to-3AM shows from a smaller pool of 3,040 venues. Now Warner Bros has smashed the record for the biggest midnight show ever (better than the $16.9M set by 2005’s  Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith then playing in 2,915 venues), and the biggest single day gross ever (better than the $59.8M set by May 4, 2007’s Spider-Man 3 in 4,252 venues, including midnight shows). So what about the weekend total? "$153M to $160M — it all depends on Saturday results," my Warner Bros insider just told me.  That would be ANOTHER record-smasher!

At CNN.com, there’s a "look at those kooky fans" feature:

Nick Patten apparently has never been happier to go work on two hours of sleep. He went to a 12:05 a.m. Friday showing of "The Dark Knight" and says he didn’t get home until 3:30 a.m. "I think one day of being tired at work, drinking Red Bulls to stay awake all day is well worth staying up late the night before to see a great movie before the rest of the world does," said Patten, a multimedia designer from Queens, New York. Such fatigue appears to be common Friday, hours after "The Dark Knight" premiered with thousands of showings that started at midnight and ran into the wee hours of the morning.

–Geoff Boucher

Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

More in: Uncategorized, Batman, The Dark Knight

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