"Dark Knight" overshadows box office rivals again

Sun Jul 27, 2008 1:32pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Batman buried his rivals at the North American box office for a second weekend on Sunday, racing past $300 million in a record 10 days.

The Caped Crusader's blockbuster outing, "The Dark Knight," sold an estimated $75.6 million worth of tickets during the three days beginning Friday, taking its total to $314.2 million, distributor Warner Bros. Pictures said.

A week after it scored a record-breaking $158 million opening, "The Dark Knight" added a new title to its impressive list of superlatives: the best second weekend, surpassing the holiday-boosted $72 million haul of 2004's "Shrek 2."

The $180 million movie, which stars Christian Bale as Batman and late actor Heath Ledger as the anarchic Joker, has reportedly been drawing strong repeat business, and also has piqued the interest of people who avoid superhero flicks or rarely go to the movies at all.

"The Dark Knight" now ranks as the second-biggest movie of the year, just behind the $315 million haul of "Iron Man," and the 23rd-biggest of all time.

The previous speed record for a $300 million film was 16 days set by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" in 2006. The next target is $400 million, which took "Shrek 2" 43 days to reach. Warner Bros. distribution president Dan Fellman predicted "The Dark Knight" would take just 18 days to reach that milestone.

"Where we go from there, it's uncharted waters," Fellman said.

The last movie to break $400 million was the 2006 "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, which ranks No. 6 on the all-time list with $423 million. The 1997 epic "Titanic" leads the field with $601 million.   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>