"The Dark Knight" leads box office for third weekend

Sun Aug 3, 2008 4:02pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Dark Knight" fended off a strong challenge from the new "Mummy" sequel to lead the North American box office for a third weekend, and is on track to become the second-biggest movie of all time.

The Batman blockbuster earned $43.8 million for the three days beginning Friday, distributor Warner Bros. Pictures said on Sunday. Universal's "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" followed with $42.5 million.

The Walt Disney Co. political comedy "Swing Vote" came in at No. 6 with just $6.3 million, the latest disappointment for its star, Kevin Costner, who has not had a $100 million movie since 1992's "The Bodyguard."

The total for "The Dark Knight" rose to $394.9 million. Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc, said it expects the film to add at least $100 million, surpassing the $461 million haul of 1977's "Star Wars" and its two reissues, the current No. 2 movie of all time in the United States and Canada. The $601 million record, held by 1997's "Titanic," seems watertight. Adjusted for inflation, though, "Titanic" ranks at No. 6, far behind "Gone with the Wind" at $1.4 billion, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo.

"The Dark Knight" will add yet another record to its impressive tally on Monday or Tuesday, when it breaks $400 million, which would be its 18th or 19th day of release. The old record of 43 days is held by 2004's "Shrek 2."

Internationally, "The Dark Knight" has earned $205 million, Warner Bros. said. Top markets include Britain with $50 million and Australia with $32 million.


Pundits had predicted that the "Mummy" movie could open to upwards of $50 million domestically, roughly in between its two predecessors, but the critically mauled Brendan Fraser film was a little bruised by the Batman juggernaut.   Continued...

<p>Actor heath Ledger as The Joker is shown in a scene from director Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters July 18, 2008. REUTERS/Warner Bros. Pictures/Handout</p>