Dark Knight, The: Breaking Commercial Records

July 19, 2008–Warner’s “Batman” sequel “The Dark Night” delivered the best opening day gross ever, making about $66.4 million in ticket sales from a record 4,366 theaters.

“Dark Knight,” toplining Christian Bale and directed by Christopher Nolan, could have the highest opening ever for a non-holiday weekend if business stays as strong as expected on Saturday and Sunday. Previous record-holdover for both opening day and best opening for a non-holiday weekend is “Spider-Man 3.”

“Spider-Man 3” made $59.8 million on its opening Friday, and $151.1 million for the weekend.

The critically acclaimed “Dark Knight” is Nolan’s follow-up to “Batman Begins,” which grossed $15 million on its opening day in June 2006, and $48.7 million for the weekend.

“Dark Knight,” which became the event film of the summer, confirms that Warners and Nolan have successfully relaunched a franchise that has seen several stops-and-starts. “Dark Knight’s” appeal is due at least in part to the late Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine also star.

“Dark Knight’s” Friday haul includes an estimated $18.5 million in midnight shows, beating the previous midnight record set by Fox’s “Star Wars, Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith” which grossed $16.9 million from 3,663 venues.

Universal’s film adaptation of musical “Mamma Mia,” shown as counter-programming, grossed an estimated $9 million to $10 million from 2,976 theaters on Friday. “Mamma Mia” should open in the neighborhood of “Hairpsray,” which debuted to $27 million on the same weekend a year ago.