Knight Slays Weekend Box-Office

“The Dark Knight” has broken the record books with the film taking in an estimated three-day opening weekend haul of $155.3 million – easilly beating the previous ‘best opening weekend of all time’ title held by “Spider-Man 3” with $151.1 million.

A $67.9 million haul on Friday combined with a $48 million Saturday total to yield the figure which gives the extremely well-reviewed film an extraordinary $35,579 per screen average across 4,366 theaters. Warners is estimating a Sunday figure of around $39.5 million but no-one is certain how this will play out until accurate three-day figures come in tomorrow morning.

Internationally the film is also doing gangbuster business with a $40 million haul despite only opening in 20 countries which doesn’t including major markets like the UK or Japan. Even if the drop-off is steep, unlikely considering the reviews, the film will easily pass the $300 million and likely push into the $400 million range by the time its finished its run – either way it’ll be the biggest earner of the year and well ahead of nearest rivals Indiana Jones and Iron Man.

“Mamma Mia!” proved highly effective counter-programming with the musical pulling in $27.6 million – the biggest opening ever for a musical and inching just ahead of last year’s $27.5 million opening for “Hairspray”. Despite notably mixed reviews, the film hauled in a strong $9,275 per screen average domestically. Its also racked up a very impressive $72.6 million international haul in just eleven days.

Both the success of ‘Mia’ and ‘Knight’ domestically this weekend led to $250 million in ticket sales overall – the biggest three-day weekend in terms of total grosses ever – easily throttling the previous record of $218.4 million on July 7th-9th 2006 when “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “Superman Returns” dominated the frame.

Not everything was sunshine though. Fox’s highly panned “Space Chimps” opened in seventh place with a mere $7.3 million. Whilst last week’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” held well with only a 43.3% drop, “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” plummeted a disastrous 70.9% (from $34.5m to $10.0m) – even more than Eddie Murphy’s highly panned “Meet Dave” which fell 68.9%. Both rank high among the biggest second weekend drops of all time – not a surprise for ‘Dave’ but certainly a shock for ‘Hellboy’ considering reviews have generally been good.

Both “Wall-E” and “Hancock” are holding well with both to pass the $200 million mark by next weekend. Further down the list various May and June releases are slowing right down with “Indiana Jones” and “Iron Man” neck-and-neck to finish up with about $320 million each, “Kung Fu Panda” to score about $220 million, “Sex and the City” to sizzle at $160 million, “Get Smart” and “Wanted” to come in at just over $140 million while “Incredible Hulk” is just under that mark.

On the limited release front the thriller “Transsiberian” took in a strong $17,600 per screen average in two New York theaters.