LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It turns out Batman is more of a superhero than first thought.
The latest installment in the Caped Crusader franchise, "The Dark Knight," enhanced its status as the biggest movie opening of all time at the North American box office, according to final data issued on Monday by its distributor, Warner Bros. Pictures.
The film grossed $158.355 million during its first three days of release across the United States and Canada -- a $3 million improvement over Sunday's estimate from the Time Warner Inc-owned studio.
It's not unusual for final weekend data to veer slightly from the initial estimate. In the case of "The Dark Knight," some rival studios had suggested Warner Bros. was a little optimistic, though no one really doubted that it would beat the opening-weekend record of $151.1 million set by "Spider-Man 3" in May 2007.
Moreover, "The Dark Knight" collected $41.3 million in ticket sales from 20 foreign markets -- up from Sunday's estimate of $40 million. That brings its worldwide total to $199.655 million.
Foreign sales were led by No. 1 openings in late co-star Heath Ledger's native Australia ($13.7 million), Mexico ($7 million) and Brazil ($4.45 million). Upcoming openings include Italy on Wednesday and Britain on Friday.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Steve Gorman