Batman has sent Spidey packing as king of Hollywood’s box-office superheroes.
“The Dark Knight” took in a record $155.34 million in its first weekend, topping the previous best of $151.1 million for “Spider-Man 3” in May 2007 and pacing Hollywood to its biggest weekend ever, according to studio estimates Sunday.
“We knew it would be big, but we never expected to dominate the marketplace like we did,” said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released “The Dark Knight.” The movie should shoot past the $200 million mark by the end of the week, he said.
Revenue totals for “The Dark Knight” could change when final numbers are released Monday.
The movie’s release was preceded by months of buzz and speculation over the performance of the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, Batman’s nemesis. Ledger, who died in January from an accidental prescription-drug overdose, played the Joker as a demonic presence, his performance prompting predictions that the role might earn him a posthumous Academy Award nomination.
“The Dark Knight” reunites director Christopher Nolan with his “Batman Begins” star Christian Bale, whose vigilante crime-fighter is taunted and tested by Ledger’s Joker as the villain unleashes violence and chaos on the city of Gotham.
Overseas, “The Dark Knight” added $40 million in 20 countries where it began opening Wednesday, including Australia, Mexico and Brazil. The film opens in Great Britain this weekend and rolls out to most of the rest of the world over the next few weeks.
“The Dark Knight,” which cost $185 million to make, also broke the “Spider-Man 3” record for best debut in IMAX large-screen theaters with $6.2 million. “Spider-Man 3” opened with $4.7 million in IMAX cinemas.
“Every single show is sold out,” said Greg Foster, IMAX chairman and president. “We’re adding shows as much as we can, but we’re at 100 percent capacity.”
On opening day Friday, “The Dark Knight” also took in more money than previously counted, Fellman said. The film pulled in a record $67.85 million, up nearly $1.5 million from the studio’s estimates a day earlier.
The previous opening-day record also had been held by “Spider-Man 3” with $59.8 million.