Friday and all weekend could be one for the Hollywood record books.
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 as 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 screenings 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.