Nothing dark about Batman's first night at the box office. The Dark Knight lit up cash registers during its midnight US debut, stealing away with a record $18.5 million from 3,040 theaters, distributor Warner Bros said on Friday.
That bested the 2005 performance of Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith, which took in $16.9 million during its midnight debut in 2,915 venues.
The Dark Knight figure did not include any of its 3 am or 6 am showings.
And while Batman only strikes at night, all indications are that The Dark Knight will keep landing blows: Advance ticket sales were booming.
The early numbers mean The Dark Knight will likely join the ranks of 10 other films that debuted on non-holiday weekends and cleared more than $100 million from Friday to Sunday, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of tracking firm Media By Numbers LLC. "There is an unbelievable demand for this movie," he said. "The Heath Ledger factor is a major part of this. Beyond that, the movie is so good, it's worthy of all these accolades." The movie directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale as Batman cost $185 million to make, excluding money spent marketing, said Dan Fellman, Warner's head of distribution. Critics have heaped praise on the movie, especially the late Heath Ledger's turn as the Joker, which has already generated whispers of a posthumous Oscar nomination.
"We're very proud of the film," Fellman said. "It's the magic of the movie business, how one film just stands out above the others."