‘Dark Knight’ Sets Opening Weekend Box Office Record

The Dark Knight“, the latest film in the hugely successful Batman franchise has set a new record for the best-ever opening weekend box office draw, earning more than $155 million.

Having seen the film last Friday night, I was struck not only by the powerfully twisted performance of Heath Ledger, but also by the morbidly macabre allure of it containing his final recorded performance before his death.

Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” is a far cry from the 1995 comic-book ridiculousness of Val Kilmer’s Batman, Chris O’Donnell’s Robin, and Jim Carrey’s Riddler.

This film is a psychogical thriller that draws more from Alfred Hitchcock than from Bob Kane, Batman’s creator; it is claustrophic, unnerving, violent, and devastating.

Although “The Dark Knight” is being heralded for its film noir aesthetic, its excellent cast, and the riveting madness of Ledger’s Joker, I was amazed to see just how dark the series has become.

If film is, in part, able to offer an artistic commentary on our current cultural norms, politics, and values, “The Dark Knight” begs an interesting question about what parts of us this disturbing portrayal of psychotic supervillains and frenetic anti-heroes reflects. And I, for one, founds its reflected images deeply disturbing. How dark have we become?

YOUR TAKE: Have you seen the film? What did you think? Is “The Dark Knight” the best superhero movie ever made?

A Warner Bros. executive says the Batman sequel “The Dark Knight” has taken in $155.34 million to top “Spider-Man 3” for best opening weekend ever at the box office.

The figures released Sunday show “The Dark Knight” more than $4 million ahead of the $151.1 million first weekend for “Spider-Man 3” in May 2007.

Studio distribution chief Dan Fellman says “The Dark Knight” also broke the “Spider-Man 3” record for best debut in IMAX large-screen theaters with $6.2 million. “Spider-Man 3” opened with $4.7 million in IMAX cinemas.

Stoked by fan fever over the manic performance of the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, “The Dark Knight” also set a one-day box office record with $66.4 million on opening day, Fellman said Saturday.

The movie’s Friday haul surpassed the previous record of $59.8 million set last year by “Spider-Man 3.” iReport.com: Did you see ‘Dark Knight’?

“The Dark Knight” began with a record $18.5 million from midnight screenings, topping the previous high of $16.9 million for “Star Wars: Episode III — The Revenge of the Sith.”

The opening day grosses for “The Dark Knight” far exceeded the full weekend haul of its predecessor, “Batman Begins,” which took in $48.7 million in its first three days in 2005.

Reviews were excellent for director Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” but they were stellar for his “Dark Knight.”

“We’ve really never seen anything like this,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. “The death of a fine actor taken in his prime, a legendary performance and a movie that lives up to all the hype. That all combined to create these record-breaking numbers.”

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