Batman breaks Spider-Man record at box office

Sun Jul 20, 2008 2:27pm EDT
 
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - KAPOW!

The new Batman movie "The Dark Knight" smashed the weekend record set by "Spider-Man 3" last year, selling an estimated $155.3 million worth of tickets during its first three days of release across the United States and Canada, distributor Warner Bros. Pictures said on Sunday.

The hotly anticipated film, co-starring late actor Heath Ledger as the anarchic Joker, surpassed the $151.1 million haul for "Spider-Man 3" during its first weekend in May 2007.

Going into the weekend, pundits had forecast an opening in the $100 million range, evidently underestimating the Batmania infecting movie fans across the world.

The Caped Crusader also generated $40 million from 20 foreign markets, highlighted by No. 1 bows in Ledger's native Australia ($13.1 million) and Mexico ($6.6 million), the Time Warner Inc-owned studio said.

With a little help from another new release "Mamma Mia!" which opened at No. 2 with $27.6 million, "The Dark Knight" propelled overall North American ticket sales to a record $253 million, according to tracking firm Media By Numbers. The old mark of $218 million was set two years ago, the company said.

"The Dark Knight" stars Welsh actor Christian Bale as Batman, and was directed by English filmmaker Christopher Nolan. They previously collaborated on "Batman Begins," which earned $48.7 million during its first weekend in 2005, and finished up with $205 million.

"Dark Knight" should hit that level by midweek, Warner Bros. said.   Continued...

 
<p>Actors (L-R) Chin Han, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, and director Christopher Nolan pose for photographers for the premiere of the film The Dark Knight in New York, July 14, 2008. REUTERS/Keith Bedford</p>