Dark Knight Beats Batman Begins
After just six days of release in North America, the new Batman sequel The Dark Knight has grossed more domestically than its predecessor did in its entire run, distributor Warner Bros Pictures said.
The Time Warner Inc-owned studio projected the film would sell about US$17 million worth of tickets on Wednesday, taking its US-Canadian total to about US$221 million.
It tallied US$158.4 million of that sum during its first three days, setting a new opening-weekend record.
In surpassing US$200 million on Tuesday, The Dark Knight took five days, breaking the record set in 2006 by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which took eight days to reach that mark.
By contrast, 2005’s Batman Begins, the first entry in the revived franchise, finished its four-month run with US$205.3 million, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo.
Both films were directed by English filmmaker Christopher Nolan, and star Welsh actor Christian Bale as Batman. Interest in the sequel was stoked by Heath Ledger’s edgy turn as the villainous Joker.
It represented the Australian actor’s last completed role before he died of an accidental overdose of prescription pills in January.
Warner Bros. distribution president Dan Fellman predicted Thursday sales of about US$16 million.
And industry observers say that even if The Dark Knight were to lose a respectable two-thirds of its business in its second weekend, it will have banked close to US$350 million after its first 10 days. At that stage, it will be within striking distance of the worldwide haul of US$372 million for Batman Begins.
The Dark Knight will enter the top-10 for all domestic releases once it surpasses the US$373.6 million tally for 2004’s Spider-Man 2.
The studio is conservatively estimating domestic sales will eventually exceed $400 million, which would make The Dark Knight the first film to break that mark since the 2006 Pirates of the Caribbean film.
Even with the Ledger-related buzz and overwhelming critical acclaim, Warner Bros evidently took no chances on getting the word out, according to ratings firm Nielsen Co.
It said that the studio ran nearly twice as many television commercials for The Dark Knight (2401) than it did for Batman Begins (1287).
The nine-week tracking period stopped 12 days before the launch of both films, Nielsen said. [stuff]