Heath Ledger as the Joker (sitting) and Christian Bale as Batman, in The Dark Knight
Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros
07/18/2008 AT 04:20 PM EDT
Buoyed by excellent reviews
and exceptional word of mouth, the Batman adventure The Dark Knight
has set a box office record for any midnight debut, according to the tracking service Media By Numbers.
Starring Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger
, the movie made $18.5 million on Friday from its showings in 3,040 theaters, topping the $16.9 million made by the debut of 2005's Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith
, the Associated Press reports.
The Dark Knight
figure excludes the box office from any of its 3 a.m. or 6 a.m. screenings. Some industry observers foresee the movie making as much as $130 million this weekend – another record.
– Stephen M. Silverman