July 18, 2008 - The Dark Knight, writer/director Christopher Nolan's second Batman movie, now holds the record for ticket sales to a 12:00am screening. Warner Bros launched The Dark Knight in 4,366 venues (also a record-breaking number) and rang up $18,489,000 in sales for just that midnight showing alone.
That $18 million take trounced the previous record set in 2005 by Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. The final Star Wars film brought in $16.9 million during its opening day 12am screenings.
Interest in The Dark Knight was so intense theaters had to add special 3am and 6am screenings in order to try and keep up with the demand for tickets. Online ticket agencies reported sold-out screenings days in advance of The Dark Knight's July 18th release. Fandango stated that at 8am PST on the 18th, The Dark Knight was selling an average of 10 tickets per second and was on pace to make it the biggest ticket-selling day in Fandango's eight year history.
As of the am hours of July 18th, online ticket agency MovieTickets.com has The Dark Knight ranked as the fourth biggest pre-saling title in their history. Only Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King sold more advance tickets through MovieTickets.com.
**Update July 19, 2008** The Dark Knight stands at $66.4 million and counting after its first full day in release. That huge take easily tops Sony Pictures' Spider-Man 3's numbers. Spider-Man 3 launched to $59.8 million in business when it hit theaters on May 4, 2007.
**Update July 20, 2008** Three days and $155.4 million - another box office record. The Dark Knight knocked Spider-Man 3, with its $151 million 3-day total, out of first place by delivering box office numbers $30-50 million higher than Warner Bros Pictures anticipated and three times more than Batman Begins did over its opening weekend back in 2005.
Fandango reports exit polls results indicating 64% of the audience responding would see the film a second time, with 62% saying Ledger as The Joker is why they'd see it twice. 53% of those polled said Heath Ledger's performance is was prompted them to buy a ticket in the first place.
**And One Final Update - July 21, 2008** The estimates were low - and that just never happens. The Dark Knight's final 3-day weekend number box office total is $158,411,483. That's right. $3 million more than was originally estimated. Boosted by significantly higher Sunday numbers than anticipated, The Dark Knight's extraordinary opening weekend take helped catapult the July 18-20th weekend into the record books as the highest earning non-holiday weekend overall in box office history.
In addition, The Dark Knight moved into the IMAX record books by earning $6.3 million in 94 locations, for a per-screen average of $67,000.
Sources: Warner Bros Pictures, Fandango, MovieTickets.com