‘The Dark Knight’ has biggest weekend ever

July 20, 2008 | 11:27 p.m.

Batflight_3We’ve been following the unfolding story of “The Dark Knight” and its massive opening weekend and as Sunday afternoon winds down, my colleague here at The Times, Ken Bensinger, has the lowdown:

Holy opening weekend, Batman!

“The Dark Knight,” the long-awaited superhero sequel from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, sold an estimated $155.3 million in tickets this weekend, setting a record for biggest three-day take and cementing the primacy of superhero movies at the cineplex.

Batman’s haul surpassed the bar set last year by “Spider-Man 3″ by $4.2 million and set the pace for what turned out to be the top-grossing overall box office weekend in U.S. history, with an estimated $253 million in ticket sales. The previous top weekend was a $218 million take two years ago, when “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” opened.

Wait, did he really write “Holy opening weekend!” Yes, I’m afraid he did. Groan. I haven’t met Ken yet, and I don’t like to throw stones at my fellow staffers, but c’mon, that was a painful cliche when Batman fans read it the first time … back in 1989. It’s like using “satisfaction” in a Rolling Stones headline or yelling “Freebird!” at a concert. Please, people, can we just move on? It’s not like the 1960s television show has anything to do with this dark new movie … ah, well, whatever. Sorry. You know us fanboys, we get stirred up easily.

Anyway, more from Bensinger’s piece:

” ‘The Dark Knight’ overshadowed everything, but a rising tide lifts all ships,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracking company Media by Numbers. “This was just a great weekend for the entire industry.”

The weekend’s No. 2 film, Universal Pictures’ ABBA musical “Mamma Mia!,” brought in $27.6 million, followed by Sony Pictures’ holdover “Hancock,” starring Will Smith, at $14 million.

Batman’s latest triumph means that three of the top five opening weekends of all time now belong to comic book-inspired films. The original “Spider-Man,” which brought in $118.4 million in its 2002 opening weekend, ranks No. 5 overall.

Despite huge expectations going into the release, the Caped Crusader’s sixth film was massive by practically any measure. The PG-13 movie set the record for top single-day receipts on Friday, hauling in $67.85 million on a record 4,366 screens, according to Media by Numbers.

– Geoff Boucher

Photo courtesy Warner Bros.

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