The new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, set a new box office record, according to the New York Times. Warner estimates that the film made $155.3 million over the three-day weekend, beating the previous record-holder, Spider-Man 3, which made $151.1 million.
$18.5 million came from the midnight showings, which were so popular that they scheduled more after the first ones sold out. Imax showings, which cost more for an average ticket, may have also helped the movie set a record.
The article goes on to talk about how attendance patterns are much more front-loaded these days than they used to be by comparing this film to the first Batman movie. Note that that earlier film made back its filming budget in its opening weekend, while this movie didn’t. And once adjusted for inflation, the first film would be considered more successful.
In 1989, Batman, with a reported budget of $35 million, opened to about $40.5 million and went on to take in more than $251 million at the domestic box office. The Dark Knight, by contrast, has been reported to cost over $180 million. Given the pattern of contemporary blockbusters, the film appears unlikely to match the performance of its predecessor, whose domestic box office sales would be on the order of $450 million if adjusted to reflect ticket price inflation.
Today’s event films tend to open bigger, and disappear more quickly, than those of the past. Thus, Spider-Man 3 took in about 45 percent of its $336.5 million in total sales on its opening weekend, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End took in 37 percent of its $309.4 million on the first weekend last year. Batman, by contrast, relied on the opening weekend for just 16 percent of sales.
They are expecting this movie to beat the total domestic take of Batman Begins by the end of this first week, though, over $200 million. That’s quite a rapid return.