Movie News

Dark Knight Shatters Hollywood Record: $158.3 Million

07/21/2008 at 08:35 AM EDT

Dark Knight Shatters Hollywood Record: $158.3 Million
Heath Ledger as the Joker (sitting) and Christian Bale as Batman, in The Dark Knight
Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros
In case you haven't heard – or witnessed at any cineplex this weekend – The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan's dark sequel about the Caped Crusader, took in $158.3 million since Friday.

Speaking on Britain's GMTV Monday morning, the star of the picture, Christian Bale of the impressive box-office take: "It's Monopoly money to me – I can't even comprehend it."

Along with a hearty $27.6 million opening take for Mamma Mia – the best ever for a musical, topping last year's Hairspray opening – this turned out to be the best three-day weekend in Hollywood history.

Previously, a $218.4 million weekend in July 2007 held that distinction, largely thanks to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

The Dark Knight's haul also exceeds the $151.1 million Spider-Man 3 made its May 2007 opening weekend. Buoyed by mostly rave notices – including PEOPLE's review – and Oscar buzz about Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker, Bale's second outing as Batman is expected to make $220 million in its first week alone – already more than Nolan's first reboot, Batman Begins, made in its entire U.S. run, reports Variety.

Among the other records broken by The Dark Knight: biggest midnight release ($18.5 million), biggest weekend on IMAX screens ($6.2 million), top single-day take on a Friday ($67.9 million), and most screens (4,366), the Los Angeles Times reports.

Overseas, the movie was on track to perform similarly, making a strong $40 million on 4,500 screens in 20 territories, breaking the Australian weekend opening for a superhero movie ($13.1 million) and Brazil's best opening this year ($4.3 million).

Women Went to See Streep

As expected, Mamma Mia, starring Meryl Streep, appealed to women – who made up an estimated 75 percent of its audience – making the bubbly ABBA musical a excellent complement to The Dark Knight's brooding action flick.

There just wasn't enough for two blockbuster superhero sequels in theaters, though. Hellboy II: The Golden Army dropped a precipitous 71 percent from last weekend's top spot to fifth place, while Will Smith's Hancock stayed in the fight at third place. And Star Chimps took in a relatively measly $7.1 million for its opening, earning it seventh place.

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