Batman has sent Spidey packing as king of Hollywood's box-office superheroes.
"The Dark Knight," the crime saga about vigilante Batman and his wealthy alter ego Wayne, debuted with a record $158.4 million.
Starring Christian Bale as Batman and the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, "The Dark Knight" surpassed Hollywood's previous best opening weekend of $151.1 million set in May 2007 by "Spider-Man 3."
The movie's release was preceded by months of buzz and speculation over the performance of the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, Batman's nemesis. Ledger, who died in January from an accidental prescription-drug overdose, played the Joker as a demonic presence, with critical acclaim over his maniacal performance firing up fans for the film and prompting predictions that the role might earn him a posthumous Academy Award nomination.
"We knew it would be big, but we never expected to dominate the marketplace like we did," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released "The Dark Knight." The movie should shoot past the $200 million mark by the end of the week, he said.
"The Dark Knight" reunites director Christopher Nolan with his "Batman Begins" star Christian Bale, whose vigilante crime-fighter is taunted and tested by Ledger's Joker as the villain unleashes violence and chaos on the city of Gotham.
"The Dark Knight," which cost $185 million to make, 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.
On opening day Friday, "The Dark Knight" pulled in a record $67.85 million. The previous opening-day record also had been held by "Spider-Man 3" with $59.8 million.
Additionally, "The Dark Knight" broke the record for a 12:01 a.m. film opening, earning an unprecedented $18,489,000 at the box office. The previous record was also held by "Spider-Man 3" with $16.9 million
What an awesome movie! Definitely worth seeing again! Heath Ledger's performance was excellent, on par with the rest of the cast!