MONDAY AM: Bigger… Bigger… BIGGEST! The Dark Knight‘s weekend tally was more than first thought — a record-setting $158.4M, according to Warner Bros. That comfortably beats Spider-Man 3‘s $151.1M for best-ever 3-day non-holiday weekend. The latest Batman installment’s Sunday take of $43.5M was down only -8% compared to Saturday’s $47.6M and set the best-ever Sunday total for its 9th record. Friday’s final figure was lowered to $67.1M. TDK‘s 10th record beats the all-time first week tally.
SUNDAY 8PM UPDATE: I’ve just been told by unofficial sources that Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight is playing to packed Sunday performances for over $40M and maybe as high as $43M. That would mean a 9th record for the latest Batman installment since Spider-Man 3‘s Sunday take in 2007 was a record-setting $39.9M. It’s also now abundantly clear that the Warner Bros caped crusader will crush the old 3-day weekend non-holiday record set by Spider-Man 3 last year. Also, Dark Knight should break its 9th record by beating the all-time weekly tally. Meanwhile, in its first six days, DK will have grossed more than the entire run of director Chris Nolan’s first installment Batman Begins.
SUNDAY AM: Warner Bros is reporting The Dark Knight will finish with a total North American weekend take of $155.3M. Here’s the surprising studio breakdown: $67.8 million Friday, including those record-setting opening day midnight shows; $48 million Saturday (-29%), and projected $39.4 million Sunday (-18%). So if Sunday holds up, that FSS (Fri-Sat-Sun) non-holiday figure will be enough to snag the record from Spider-Man 3‘s $151.1 million. But it’ll be close. The latest Batman installment did not set a record Saturday, leaving Spidey 3‘s best-ever $51.3M intact. That Friday to Saturday decline looks steep, but actually they mirror each other without the opening day midnight frenzy. Total domestic grosses for all the movies playing this weekend look around $253M. That easily shatters the best-ever FSS non-holiday overall record of $218.4 million set on July 7-9, 2006 when Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest opened. Today, Some rival studios reported lower figures for Friday and Saturday and questioned Warner Bros numbers as well as believed the Sunday estimate was too aggressive. Meanwhile, in a successful bit of counter-programming, Universal’s Mamma Mia! finished 2nd with $9.8M Saturday for a $27.6M opening weekend. Overseas, the ABBA musical has made a fast $72.6M in just 11 days. See Top 10 B.O. below…
(Photo by Jim Stevenson of Dark Knight moviegoers on line for midnight previews at Los Angeles theater.)
Media By Numbers’ OFFICIAL DARK KNIGHT RECORDS SO FAR (in order of occurrence):
1 - LARGEST NUMBER OF OPENING THEATRES WITH 4,366 (MORE THAN THE 4,362 DEBUT THEATRES OF PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END IN 2007).
2 - BIGGEST MIDNIGHT PREVIEW GROSS WITH $18.489 MILLION IN 3,040 THEATRES (BEATS STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH AND ITS $16.9 MILLION IN 2,915 THEATRES IN 2005).
3 - BIGGEST IMAX MIDNIGHT PREVIEWS SET AN NEW RECORD WITH $640,000 (INCLUDED IN THE $18.489 MILLION PREVIEW NUMBER).
4 - BIGGEST SINGLE-DAY GROSS IN BOX-OFFICE HISTORY WITH $67.850 MILLION (BESTS THE $59,841,919 SET BY SPIDER-MAN 3 IN 2007).
5 - BIGGEST OPENING WEEKEND GROSS IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY WITH $155.340 MILLION (BESTS THE $151,116 MILLION SET BY SPIDER-MAN 3 IN 2007).
6 - BIGGEST OPENING WEEKEND GROSS FOR AN IMAX RELEASE IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY WITH $6,214,061 MILLION IN 94 THEATRES WITH $66,107 PER THEATRE. (BESTS THE $4.7 MILLION SET BY SPIDER-MAN 3 IN 2007.) IMAX SHOWING AT FULL CAPACITY $1.9 MILLION ON SATURDAY ALONE.
7 - BIGGEST OPENING WEEKEND OF 2008 WITH $151.340 (BEATS INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL‘S $101.137 MILLION FROM MAY 23-25, 2008)
8 – BIGGEST JULY OPENING EVER (BEATS PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST‘S $135,634,554 ON JULY 7, 2006).
Believe it or not, there were other movies opening and playing at the box office.
In 2nd place, Universal’s North American debut of its movie version of the globally popular Mamma Mia! musical proved great counter-programming against Batman. It made $9.6M Friday for what should be a 3-day weekend total of $28.1M, better than Hairspray‘s $27.4M and what the studio had expected especially since ABBA was never as big in the U.S. as overseas. Exit polling showed that 3/4 of the audience was female, 64% were age 30 or older, slightly more than a third of the audience had seen the musical, while more than half had heard of it but not seen it. The main reasons given for seeing Mamma Mia! were the “musical numbers” (56%), followed by the “songs of ABBA” (49%), “I like musicals” (47%, skewing female), and Meryl Streep (47%, especially among older females).
Sony’s holdover Hancock sat solidly in 3rd place with a $4.5M Friday and $5.5M Saturday from 3,776 plays for a $14M weekend and $191.5M new cume. The Will Smith actioner has now made a humongous $444M worldwide. No. 4 was Warner Bros’ Journey To The Center Of The Earth 3D, which dropped 47% from a week ago $11.9M for the weekend and new cume of $43M. Disney/Pixar’s hit toon Wall-E made $2.9M Friday for 5th by weekend’s end with $9.8M and new cume of $182.4M. But the surprise was 6th place Hellboy II: The Golden Army‘s 71% fall from grace after finishing a big No 1 last weekend. It made only $10M this weekend for a $56.4M new cume. Obviously, the Dark Horse comic character lost out to the way-more-famous DC Comics caped crusader. At No. 7, Starz/Fox’s toon Space Chimps earned $7.3M for FSS. Universal’s Wanted was 8th with $1.5M Friday and probably $5.1M for the weekend. At No. 9, Warner Bros’ Get Smart took in a $4M weekend and $119.5M new cume. And Paramount’s Kung Fu Panda jumped up to #10 with a $1.7M weekend and $206.5M new cume. One week after its debut, Fox’s disastrous Meet Dave fell out of the Top 10 altogether.
SATURDAY 3PM: The Dark Knight‘s Friday opening was even bigger than first thought, according to final numbers come in – not just $66.4M but $67+M in North American gross from a record-setting wide release of 4,366 theaters. That includes the $18.5M in midnight-to-3AM shows from a smaller pool of 3,040 venues. Now Warner Bros has smashed the record for the biggest midnight show ever (better than the $16.9M set by 2005′s Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith then playing in 2,915 venues), and the biggest single day ever (better than the $59.8M set by May 4, 2007′s Spider-Man 3 in 4,252 venues, including midnight shows). So what about the weekend total? “$153M to $160M — it all depends on Saturday results,” my Warner Bros insider just told me. That would be ANOTHER record-smasher!
The question is whether Dark Knight goes up or down – and by how much either way. The Saturday number to beat is Spider-Man 3‘s $51.3M, which was down 14% from its Friday number. The FSS number to best is Spider-Man 3‘s $151M, including a take of $39.9M on Sunday. Interestingly, rival studios are hesitant to even venture a guess about the latest Batman installment’s 3-day weekend total. “Saturday business will tell the tale of where this is headed,” one rival studio bigwig stressed to me. Said another, “The hard thing about this movie is you don’t know if all the shows tonight are already sold out, so their number might not move much.”
Here is the way to think about Saturday and the weekend: if you start with $66.4M Friday and back out the $18.5M of midnight shows, then Dark Knight‘s comparable starting point is $47.5M. So if the pic is down 5% from there on Saturday, it would be $45M. If it were 10%, it would be $52M (what it would take to best Spidey 3‘s Saturday record). That is the most likely range for today. But those would be announced as $45M, down 30%, or $52M, down 20%, as they will be compared to the Friday number which included midnight shows. Sunday is likely to drop somewhere between 15%-20% from there. So Dark Knight needs to be $47M-$48M today to set itself up to best the weekend record.
FRIDAY 10:30PM: More numbers show The Dark Night opens to $65M Friday.
FRIDAY 5:30PM: Warner Bros sources tell me that The Dark Knight is opening to a humongous $60M today from a widest-ever release of 4,366 North American theaters. That’s breathtaking box office gross, even for a mega-blockbuster! So the studio is privately preening that this latest Batman installment has scored the biggest Friday ever, beating Sony’s previous record-setter Spider-Man 3 with $59.8M scored on Friday, May 4th, 2007. What also makes this number so stunning is that the Chris Nolan-directed DC Comics dark drama starring Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger is not as kid friendly as the comic book caper starring the Marvel webbed hero. Meanwhile, despite all the sell-outs this weekend, seats for The Dark Knight are selling at the astounding rate of 15 tickets per second at Fandango.com, the big movie ticket service. Clearly, the great word of mouth is spreading as well as the rave reviews: 90% positive among cream of the crop critics on RottenTomatoes.com. So far, the only breakdown available for Friday’s box office is a record $18.5M from 12:01 AM showings, including a best-ever $640K for IMAX midnight previews.
FRIDAY 7AM: Warner Bros is poised to making Hollywood history this weekend. That’s because its opening comic book caper The Dark Knight is already on its way to breaking records left and right today even as it’s still sparking a ticket-selling frenzy across North America. I’ve just been told that the latest Batman installment’s $18.5 million midnight shows broke the record of $16 million set by Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith. According to Media By Numbers, Imax showings of also set a record with $640K in the midnight previews. (This figure is included in the studio’s overall.) According to Media By Numbers, IMAX showings of the Warner Bros mega-blockbuster also set a record with $640K for the midnight previews. This figure is included in the studio’s overall 12:01AM screenings number of $18.4 million. Director Chris Nolan shot six major action sequences, including the opening six minutes and Joker’s first appearance in the film, with IMAX cameras. This marks the first time ever that a major feature film has been even partially shot using IMAX cameras, deemed a revolutionary integration of the two film formats. Across North America, theater owners are working feverishly to squeeze in more screenings of the runaway success to meet voracious moviegoer demand. News reports were quoting fans as saying they’d pay $100 per ticket just to see the PG-13 pic.
Fandango.com, the largest online ticketseller, has just announced that Dark Knight has jumped to No. 2 on its Top 10 List of Advance Ticket-Sellers. It’s No. 4 on MovieTickets.com’s list. Fandango.com says it’s now selling an average of nearly 10 tickets per second for the pic during peak periods, while MovieTickets.com cites more than 1,300 performances nationwide that are still sold out, including more than 220 in New York City and Los Angeles alone. These are extraordinary metrics underscoring Hollywood’s belief that not just the individual but also the overall 3-day non-holiday box office record is going down this weekend.
Top 10 Advance Ticket-Sellers list from Fandango.com:
1. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
2. The Dark Knight (2008)
3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
6. Hannah Montana 3D (2008)
7. Lord Of The Rings: Return of the King (2003)
8. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
9. Sex And The City (2008)
10. The Passion Of The Christ (2004)
MovieTickets.com’s Top Pre-Sale List Of All Times:
1. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
4. The Dark Knight
EXCLUSIVE: Though they won’t dare discuss this in public, I’m told that Warner Bros bigwigs are hoping for between $160 million and $170 million for Batman: The Dark Knight‘s 3-day weekend total gross from a record 4,366 North American theaters despite a 152 minute running time. Now that may be impossible, and a huge increase from the $130 million that the studio bosses were expecting earlier in the week, but anything over $100 million is going to be considered a humongous success. Because the ticket sales frenzy, from coast to coast, city to city, town to town, with almost 24/7 performances even in the hinterlands, new sceenings being squeezed in by the minute, online services selling an average of nearly 10 tickets per second for the pic during peak periods, and all those IMAX sell-outs, has everyone revved up.
Warner Bros toppers have their sights set on taking down every record, too. They especially want to better Sony’s Spider-Man 3, which scored the best 3-day weekend opening of $151.1 million over May 4-6 last year. And to beat the best-ever 3-day non-holiday weekend box office overall , this Batman installment has to better $218.4 million in total domestic grosses set on July 7-9, 2006, when Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest opened with $131.5 million. Meanwhile, see the Batman franchise numbers here.
My own box office gurus’ predictions for this weekend are: a low of $100M to a high of $135M for Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight from a record 4,366 North American theaters, a low of $20M to a high of $31M for Universal’s Mamma Mia! in 2,976 venues (the ticket sales frenzy is driving this musical, well, batty), and $6M to $8M for Starz/Fox’s Space Chimps in 2,511 runs.
THURSDAY UPDATE: Here is the most recent sales info regarding Batman: The Dark Knight: Fandango, the nations leading movie ticket sellers, says it appears to be selling between 9 tickets per second for the pic. More than 2,000 sold-out showtimes. Add that to MovieTickets.com’s 1,600 and you’ve got close to 4,000 performance sell-outs! I’m told 1,700 of the sell-outs are for showtimes between 12:01 AM and 8:00AM Friday. And the number of locations in North America where the comic book caper will be playing — 4,366 — is an Industry record. There are sold-out shows through the weekend from Washington D.C. to Puyallup, Washington, and in towns like Bozeman, Montana and Fitchburg, Wisconsin. I can report that 6:00AM shows are scheduled in bif cities and small, from San Diego to Hazelwood, Missouri, and Tigard, Oregon, etc.
7PM: With two hours still to go until the clock strikes midnight ET, Dark Knight has reached MovieTickets.com’s Top-5 Pre-sale List of All-Time:
1. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
4. Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert
5. The Dark Knight
Fandango COO Rick Butler says: “Friday is pacing to be our biggest ticket-selling day in company history. It’s very possible that we’ll break our hourly ticketing record by tomorrow morning.” Currently, Dark Knight represents 94% of ticket sales on Fandango.com, the nation’s leading movie ticketing destination.
As of 12PM today, MovieTickets.com already has over 1,600 performances sold out in North America, including over 300 in LA and NY alone. Warner Bros sources tell me that Imax has 1,600 shows in all U.S. screens for this weekend’s opening. As of 5PM Wednesday, 1,400 of those shows were sold out.
As of 1PM today, Dark Knight is currently No. 9 on MovieTickets.com’s Top-10 Pre-Sale List of All-Time, which includes IMAX ticket sales. It’s currently ahead of two Spider-Man blockbusters (Spider-Man 3 and Spider-Man 2), three Harry Potter films (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
Dark Knight accounted for 88% of tickets sold on MovieTickets.com on Wednesday. As of 12 PM, it has accounted for 87% of all tickets sold today.
WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Studio sources tell me that record-breaking advance ticket sales for Warner Bros’ Batman: The Dark Knight “continue to grow at a pace unlike any other film in history”. Even the number of locations in North America where the comic book caper will be playing — 4,366 — is an Industry record. There are also approximately 3,000 theaters that will start screening the actioner at 12:01AM Friday. Meanwhile, every IMAX show in New York City this weekend is sold out. By all accounts this should be Hollywood’s best-ever 3-day overall North American weekend at the box office: the number to beat is last year’s $151+ million. So Dark Knight‘s expected $130+ million opening, combined with Universal’s anticipated $25+ million Mamma Mia! debut, should expand the marketplace by a huge number to include those two films and all the very popular holdovers like Sony’s Hancock, Universal’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E, Warner Bros’ Journey To The Center Of The Earth, and Universal’s Wanted. As a Warner Bros exec emailed me, “Should be a fun ride this weekend…”
MovieTickets.com says that, four days prior to its release, Warner Bros’ Batman: The Dark Knight has sold out 700 performances in North America and is outselling 3 of MovieTickets.com’s Top 10 Performing Films of All-Time. To date, the pic has more than 3-times as many advance tickets as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, more than 2-times as many as Spider-Man 3 and almost 2-times as many as Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers at the same point in the sales cycle. This fuels predictions that the latest Batman 152-minute pic can make $130+ million in domestic gross for the upcoming 3-day weekend opening because of round-the-clock showings.
In a recent MovieTickets.com survey, moviegoers aware of The Dark Knight expressed “wannasee” during its opening weekend in all four age groups polled: 24 & Under – 98%, 25 to 34 – 92%, 35 to 44 – 78%, 45 to 59 – 66%. In addition, the survey found that 86% of males and 76% of females polled said they intend to see it during its opening weekend.
Meanwhile Fandango (which sells tickets to more than 15,000 theater screens) reports that Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight has grabbed a whopping 90% of all ticket sales for the upcoming weekend show. That’s incredible considering it was still only Tuesday. COO Rick Butler claims fan anticipation is the highest since Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith. “Moviegoer curiosity about the late Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker is helping fuel additional ticket sales, outside of the traditional action movie and Batman fan base.”
Also according to Fandango, every showing at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 IMAX theater this weekend is sold out, including the Friday morning 4AM show. There is still an IMAX screening not yet sold out in New Rochelle, NY, at 6:10AM. IMAX tickets cost more than standard admission ($16 to $12 for adults in NYC).
And Comcast just released 6 exclusive videos of The Dark Knight it claims can;t be found anywhere else, as well as a new videogame based on the pic. Plus, let’s not forget the onslaught of tie-in products…
It’s understandable even if ridiculous that Warner Bros keeps trying to lower everyone’s expectations for this behemoth blockbuster of a Batman Begins sequel. My sources at the studio keep insisting that Dark Knight will “only” make $90 million to $100 million for its opening 3-day weekend. I can’t believe they’re seriously suggesting that Dark Knight will make less than Iron Man.
But the WB insiders point to all the increased competition at the megaplex now as opposed to the beginning of May. Whereas my box office gurus are predicting domestic gross as high as $130M for the wildly anticipated Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale film because of all those record-breaking early ticket sales at North American runs, including IMAX. That would put it 3rd in terms of all-time opening 3-day weekends — behind Spider-Man 3 ($151.1M on May 4-6, 2007)and Pirates Of The Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest ($131.6M on July 7, 2006). One worry mitigating the Heath Ledger fanboy factor which Hollywood has mentioned is that the pic’s 2 hour and 32 minute running time will limit showings. But that isn’t an issue anymore since many theater managers/owners plan round-the-clock screenings during its midnight July 18 mega-debut.