US Box Office Report: The Dark Knight record-breaking edition

The last weekend at the American box office was all about the Bat - but there was room too for a few other films to pull in the money...

Why so serious?

You’ve heard about Christopher Nolan’s incredible opening day for The Dark Knight already. The number for Friday is now $67.85 million dollars, and may still grow when all the stubs are counted. Officially the fastest movie to cross the $100 million dollar barrier in history, The Dark Knight was an unstoppable force at the box office this weekend, with the top opening weekend of the year, the top opening weekend in box office history, the top PG-13 opening in history, and any number of other records and accolades relating to how insanely successful the film was.

All told, The Dark Knight took in an American box office total of $158.41 million dollars and a worldwide box office of over $195 million dollars thanks to the widest domestic box office release in history. In the States alone, the second of the New Bat Trilogy hit 4,366 screens total, beating even the insanely wide launches for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Spider-Man 3. Apparently, every one of those screenings was full.

The second of three wide openings this weekend, the ABBA-themed musical Mamma Mia! trailed in the destructive wake of Christian Bale in a cape, bringing in $27.6 million dollars. While nothing to sing about, when you consider the film was released to serve as counterprogramming for the most hyped movie of the year, that’s a really good take. Considering that it is a musical featuring songs from a Swedish disco band that broke up in 1982 and doesn’t have any serious promotion behind it, such a strong performance is a win.

Will Smith’s Hancock continues to somehow perform very strongly, as well. While not able to keep up with the two big new releases, the flawed hero does manage to place a strong third in the top ten, with a weekend gross of $14 million dollars. Last week’s top film, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, tumbled to fifth place on $10.03 million dollars in box office gross and was leapfrogged by the 3-D adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth (fourth place) and its $11.9 million dollars in revenue. Not a bad total, considering the 3-D subgenre of films was supposedly killed off in the early 1980s by such classic films as Jaws 3-D, Parasite, and Friday the 13th Part III.

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Wall-E manages to fend off the animated competition for another week. The sixth-place blockbuster brought in $9.8 million dollars, handily defeating the newly-released Space Chimps, which brought in $7.35 million dollars (seventh place) after modest, but inventive, promotion. The only thing I can remember promoting the film was a sticker placed on my afternoon snack by the good folks at Dole and a couple of commercials. Kung Fu Panda will be exiting the top ten next weekend, as Jack Black’s cuddly fight film brought in $1.75 million to round out the top films.

Get Smart continues to perform well, with a ninth-place $4.085 million dollars in box office. Wanted, the kinetic action shooter based off a Mark Millar comic book, held onto eighth place with $5.097 million dollars in what will be known as the year of the comic book movie. No matter the property, comic book-based films are cleaning up this summer. While it has been something of an ongoing trend for the past few years, there have never been more titles making the big screen, and surprisingly, most of the movies have been really good. Here’s hoping the trend continues.

In trends that seem to be sputtering to a close, consider the career of Will Ferrell. Is he really still a box office draw after the failure of Semi-Pro? I don’t think so. Fellow Adam McKay performer John C. Reilly (the funnier of the two in my opinion) found his starring comedy debut Walk Hard dead on arrival. The two pair up, yet again, for Step Brothers. While it looks better than either of the two movies previously mentioned, it’s definitely not Anchorman or Old School.

The other big release, which I’m excited about, is The X-Files: I Want To Believe. I want to believe that it’s going to be great, and that it will perform well next week, but the realist in me knows that The Dark Knight is going to get a lot of repeat business next weekend. Still, I know which one I’m going to see. Mulder, Scully, and their cast of villains were key components to one of my favorite programmes of the 20th Century, and I could not be more excited about what the new X-film might reveal. I still have a vintage X-Files tee-shirt in my wardrobe, and if I can still fit into it, I’m going to dust it off for Friday.