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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: the Dark Knight is still flying high

It’ll be the work of pop-culture watchers like me to try to figure out, over the next few weeks and months, exactly what it is about The Dark Knight that is striking such a chord with audiences. Yes, ticket prices are up, which is contributing to its seeming license to print money, but still: the speed with which it is racking up these extraordinary numbers is unprecedented. It makes the fact that it’s still at the top of the roster for a third week in a row seem like relatively small stuff:

1. The Dark Knight: $43.8 million
2. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: $42.4 million
3. Step Brothers: $16.3 million (dropping 47% in its second week)
4. Mamma Mia!: $13.1 million
5. Journey to the Center of the Earth: $6.9 million
Dark Knight’s total right now stands at almost $395 million — that’s domestically, in North America, and not counting the more than $200 million it’s earned overseas so far — and it will hit $400 million today or tomorrow. It took Shrek 2 43 days to do that; Dark Knight will do it in 18 or 19. In the ranking of all-time box-office moneymakers, Dark Knight is currently at No. 8; it’ll pass No. 7, Spider-Man, in the next few days, and in fact, it seems impossible that it won’t surpass the No. 2 film, Star Wars, which has earned $461 million… and that’s counting all its many rereleases. Dark Knight will do that in just a few months, at most.

In lesser box-office news, Swing Vote debuted at No. 6 with a lousy $6.3 million. But that looks good next to Midnight Meat Train, which took in a pathetic $32,000 on 102 screens; that’s a per-screen average of $313. We’ve been debating here whether Lionsgate was trying to bury it — let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were, and succeeded.

The best per-screen of the weekend went to The Mummy, at $11,289. The indie Frozen River was second, at $10,471 (though it was on only seven screens), with Dark Knight a close third, at $10,267.



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