'Dark Knight' Soars Past $400 Million
On its 18th day of release, The Dark Knight sprinted past the $400 million mark, shattering yet another record in its amazing run. Shrek 2 was previously the fastest to the milestone, hitting the mark in 43 days. By day 19, the Batman juggernaut tallied $405.7 million and eclipsed the final gross of the vaunted Spider-Man, though it's still a ways off in admissions.

Over the weekend, The Dark Knight raked in $42.7 million, topping the chart for the third time in a row. Its 43 percent drop was about the same as Batman Begins and that picture was performing at a fraction of the level. Included in Dark Knight's weekend was an estimated $3.9 million from 94 IMAX sites, which was down 17 percent, and the format now accounts for around six percent of the movie's total gross. One record that was not achieved, however, was biggest third weekend. Spider-Man still holds that title with $45 million.

What makes The Dark Knight all the more impressive is that it will soon overtake Batman of 1989 as the most attended picture of the franchise. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, Batman would equal nearly $450 million today, and, more often than not, it's the first movie of a major franchise that's the most popular from Star Wars to Spider-Man to Harry Potter. What's more, Dark Knight's immediate predecessor, Batman Begins, made $205.3 million (or around $227 million adjusted), and Dark Knight's improvement on that picture is heretofore unheard of in the realm of blockbusters.

The weekend also saw the resurrection of the dusty Mummy franchise. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor outdrew Dark Knight on Friday but unraveled at a faster rate (as is increasingly the norm for big summer movies in their first weekends) to wind up with a solid $40.5 million on approximately 6,200 screens at 3,760 locations. In terms of admissions, it was by far the series' smallest start as the first Mummy's opening would equal over $60 million today and The Mummy Returns' would be around $85 million, adjusted for ticket price inflation.

It's been over seven years since the last Mummy movie, not counting The Scorpion King spin-off, and while the franchise's attempt at computer-generated Indiana Jones-type adventure stood out back then, there have been the Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure movies not to mention the latest Indiana Jones and Journey to the Center of the Earth and other hyper-spectacles since, diluting the impact of the new Mummy's offering of more of the same. The China setting was intended to shake things up, but that country is not iconic for mummies like the first two movies' Egypt. According to distributor Universal Pictures' research, 56 percent of Tomb of the Dragon Emperor's audience was over 25 years old and 52 percent was male, while 94 percent had seen the first Mummy and 93 percent the second Mummy.

The weekend's other new nationwide release, Swing Vote, struck out with a meager $6.2 million at 2,213 locations. Political comedy generally isn't the stuff of blockbusters, but this picture had a below par start.

Among holdovers, Step Brothers stocked $16.5 million, down 47 percent in its second weekend. The drop was slightly better than most Will Ferrell comedies, and the movie has grossed a sturdy $68.4 million in 12 days, which is inline with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy through the same point in terms of attendance.

Mamma Mia! continued to be a super trouper, easing 29 percent over the weekend to $12.6 million and its total rose to $91.8 million in 19 days. By comparison, Hairspray fell 42 percent on the same weekend last year and grossed less. Also holding well were Journey to the Center of the Earth, off 31 percent, and Wall-E, which was down 28 percent and crossed the $200 million mark.

On the other hand, The X-Files: I Want to Believe collapsed 66 percent in its second weekend to an anemic $3.4 million. With $17.9 million in 12 days, the second adaptation of the paranormal television series has sold about as many tickets as the first X-Files did in its opening day.


• 7/23/08 - 'Dark Knight' Begins Smashingly

• 8/6/07 - 'Bourne Ultimatum' Accepted (Same Weekend, 2007)

• 8/7/06 - 'Talladega Nights' Goes Fast (Same Weekend, 2006)

• 8/8/05 - 'Dukes' Charge Top Spot, Emperors 'March' On (Same Weekend, 2005)


Weekend Box Office Results

• All Time Grosses

• Fastest to $400 Million

• 'Batman' Franchise

• 'Mummy' Franchise

• Period Adventures