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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: the Dark Knight at the end of the tunnel

You’ve probably already heard that The Dark Knight broke all sorts of records this weekend. But have you seen by just how much it left its competition in the dust. Here’s what the weekend looked like:

1. The Dark Knight: $155.3 million
2. Mamma Mia!: $27.6 million
3. Hancock: $14 million
4. Journey to the Center of the Earth: $11.9 million (dropping 43% in its second week)
5. Hellboy II: The Golden Army: $10 million (dropping 71% in its second week)
I suspected that this weekend, with the brilliant counterprogramming of Batman and ABBA, could result in record box office receipts, and that’s exactly what happened: total ticket sales were $253 million, smashing the previous record of $218 million set two years ago. Which is, I think, even more impressive than the mere few millions between Knight and the record it broke, Spider-Man 3’s opening of $151 million last year.

(Look at the drop for Hellboy II: 71 percent! That’s downright embarrassing.)

Mamma Mia!’s debut doesn’t look quite so impressive next to Dark Knight’s (it’s a new record gap between the No. 1 and No. 2 films, actually), but it is, in fact, the best opening for a musical ever: it just edged out the debut of last year’s Hairspray by about $150,000.

Space Chimps burned up in the atmosphere, debuting at No. 7 with $7.4 million. I’m surprised it earned even that much.

The Dark Knight was so dominant this weekend that it had the best per-screen average, by far, at $35,579. It’s far-distant nearest competition was the indie thriller Transsiberian — starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, and Ben Kingsley — at $17,600. Since it was playing in only two theaters, its total take for the weekend, $35,200, isn’t even as much as Knight earned, on average, at a single location. And no other indie even came close to touching Mamma Mia!’s per-screen of $9,275. It was all about the multiplex this weekend, even moreso than it usually is.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo and Reuters]

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