'Dark Knight' Turns in Golden Weekend
By David Germain, AP
LOS ANGELES (July 20) - Batman has sent Spidey packing as king of Hollywood's box office superheroes. "The Dark Knight" took in a record $158.3 million in its first weekend, said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released the "Batman Begins" sequel.
That topped Hollywood's previous best of $151.1 million, set by "Spider-Man 3" in May 2007.
"We knew it would be big, but we never expected to dominate the marketplace like we did," Fellman said. The movie should shoot past the $200 million mark by the end of the week, he said.
Factoring in higher admission prices, however, "Spider-Man 3" may have sold slightly more tickets than "The Dark Knight."
At 2007's average price of $6.88, "Spider-Man 3" sold 21.96 million tickets over opening weekend. Box office tracker Media By Numbers estimates today's average movie prices at $7.08, which means "The Dark Knight" would have sold 21.94 million tickets.
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. See Ledger's Glowing Reviews
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