Time Warner Inc.'s "The Dark Knight," the sequel to 2005's "Batman Begins," made a record $155.3 million in its opening weekend for Warner Bros., while setting at least five other box-office records.
They include the biggest single-day gross for a movie ($67.9 million), the largest midnight preview ($18.5 million) and the most opening theaters (4,366), box-office tracker Media By Numbers LLC said today in a statement. Sony Corp.'s "Spider- Man 3" held the previous record for the largest weekend gross, making $151.1 million last year.
"Mamma Mia!," based on the Broadway musical, brought in $27.6 million for General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures for a second-place finish, Media By Numbers said. That was the biggest opening ever for a movie-musical.
In some U.S. cities, theaters sold out of "Dark Knight" tickets days in advance of show times. Warner Bros., last among the six biggest Hollywood studios this year by U.S. ticket sales, may rise to third place behind Viacom Inc.'s Paramount and News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox when final results are released tomorrow.
"This isn't just the movie of the weekend, it could be the movie of the next several weekends or even the next several months," Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers, said in an interview. "It's a cultural event and the people who go this weekend will likely return with their friends."
The film stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, who fights crime disguised as Batman, and Heath Ledger, who died in January from an accidental prescription-drug overdose, as the Joker. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Rachel Dawes, Wayne's love interest, while Morgan Freeman returns as Lucius Fox and Michael Caine reprises the role of Alfred, the butler.
Critics praised "The Dark Knight," with 175 positive write-ups out of the 186 reviews tracked on RottenTomatoes.com as of July 18.
"Mamma Mia!," set to the music of Abba, follows the Broadway musical story about a daughter who invites to her wedding three men from her mother's past, one of whom who may be her father. The movie stars Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth.
The film was projected by Box Office Mojo to collect U.S. ticket sales of $24.2 million this weekend. It edged out "Hairspray" for best movie-musical opener, which made $27.5 million for Time Warner's New Line Cinema when it debuted.