SATURDAY 3PM: Well, look who’s laughing now! Warner Bros, because The Dark Knight‘s Friday opening was even bigger than first thought, as 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 record-setting $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 gross 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.

Meanwhile, reports that Dark Knight broke the record for tickets sold by a single film in a single day on Friday, surpassing the previous mark set by Spider-Man 3 on May 4, 2007. The site also set a record for the most tickets sold in a single day in the company’s eight-year history. So, yes, 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. Sony’s holdover Hancock sat solidly in 3rd place with a $4.5M Friday from 3,776 plays and what should be a $14M weekend. No. 4 was Warner Bros’s Journey To The Center Of The Earth 3D, which dropped 50% from a week ago for $3.5M Friday. It could probably take in $12M for the weekend. But the surprise was 5th place Hellboy II: The Golden Army‘s 77% fall from grace after finishing a big No 1 last weekend. This Friday, it made only $3.2M for what should be just a $10.3M weekend. Obviously, the Dark Horse comic character lost out to the way-more-famous DC Comics caped crusader. Disney/Pixar’s hit toon Wall-E made $2.9M Friday for probably 6th by weekend’s end with $10M. At No. 7, Starz/Fox’s Space Chimps earned $2.5M today on its way also to $8M. 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 $1.2M Friday for what should be a $4M weekend. And rounding out the Top 10 is disastrous Fox’s Meet Dave with $540K Friday and maybe a $1.8M weekend.

FRIDAY 10:30PM: New numbers show The Dark Knight set a record $65M for 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 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 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 ZIMAX midnight previews.

Meanwhile, Universal sources tell me that the studio’s very early numbers for the 2,976 theaters opening Mamma Mia! made around $9M Friday and is on target to take in $25+M for the entire weekend.

  1. ‘Dark Knight’ Speeding Towards Records (continuously updated)
  2. ‘Dark Knight’ Fans Turning Out Dressed Up And In Droves