"Dark Knight" clears $400 million at record pace

Wed Aug 6, 2008 3:26pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Batman sequel "The Dark Knight" smashed yet another Hollywood record as it cleared the $400 million domestic box office mark in 18 days, less than half the time it took "Shrek 2" to reach that milestone, Warner Bros. Pictures said on Tuesday.

After a third straight weekend at No. 1 in U.S. and Canadian theaters -- grossing $42.7 million Friday through Sunday -- "Dark Knight" amassed $6.3 million on Monday to bring its domestic tally to $400.03 million, the Time Warner Inc.-owned movie distributor reported.

The previous record holder, the computer-animated storybook spoof "Shrek 2," crossed the $400 million mark in 43 days back in 2004, according to box office watcher Media By Numbers.

Warner Bros. has said it expects "Dark Knight" to add at least another $100 million to its North American ticket sales, surpassing the $461 million haul of 1977's "Star Wars" and its two reissues. "Star Wars" ranks as the No. 2 movie of all time in the United States and Canada.

While "Dark Knight" appears destined to become only the second movie to gross $500 million domestically, the $601 million record held by 1997's "Titanic" seems unlikely to sink, said Media By Numbers president Paul Dergarabedian.

"That $600 million is kind of one for the ages. It's held for 10 years," Dergarabedian told Reuters. "It's very, very difficult to get from $500 million to $600 million. But the fact we're even talking about it tells you something about the strength of 'The Dark Knight' and what a phenomenon it is."

Adjusted for inflation, though, "Titanic" ranks at No. 6 in the record books, far behind "Gone with the Wind" at $1.4 billion, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo.

"The Dark Knight," the second of the newly revived Warner Bros. film franchise based on the adventures of D.C. Comics' Batman character, is a follow-up to 2005's "Batman Begins."   Continued...

<p>Actor Christian Bale as Batman 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>