Beware, Lord Vader.
The Dark Knight brought its overall domestic gross to $441.5 million today, per Exhibitor Relations estimates, moving the film to third among the all-time box office champs, and leaving it perhaps only a week away from trumping Star Wars for second place.
The Batman movie's Friday-Sunday take of $26 million gave the blockbuster its fourth-straight weekend box office win—a feat not accomplished since Lord of the Rings: Return of the King ruled in 2003-04.
Assuming the studio estimates hold, the weekend gross moved Dark Knight up four spots on the all-time list, as the film bypassed Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($423 million), Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace ($431 million), E.T. ($435 million) and Shrek 2 ($441.2 million).
If The Dark Knight maintains its current pace, the movie should have enough momentum to overtake the original Star Wars ($461 million, including rereleases) by the end of next weekend.
After Star Wars, the next box office challenge for The Dark Knight will be to break $500 million.
After that, the next box office challenge will be to break Titanic ($601 million).
And after that, it can rest.
Drilling down through the box office standings:
- Pineapple Express ($22.4 million) bowed in second. After five days, the Seth Rogen-James Franco action-comedy, which opened Wednesday, has taken in $40.5 million against a reported $27 million budget. True, the Rogen-penned Superbad got off to an even faster start ($43.3 million in its first five days last August). But, also true, the Superbad guys didn't have to tangle with the Batman.
- In one of the sadder tales of the summer, The X-Files: I Want to Believe ($1.2 million, per Box Office Mojo) disappeared from the Top 10 after just a two-weekend stay. To date, the $35 million movie has failed to gross even $20 million overall, and managed to sell fewer tickets than Space Chimps ($1.7 million; $25.4 million).
- Like the new X-Files movie, Space Chimps fell out of the Top 10. Unlike the new X-Files movie, Space Chimps lasted there three weekends.
- In its second weekend, business for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (third place, $16.1 million; $70.7 million overall) plunged 60 percent.
- Now in its fourth weekend, Mamma Mia! (sixth place, $8.1 million; $104 million overall) hasn't seen weekend-to-weekend business dip even 40 percent.
- Will Farren's and John C. Reilly's Step Brothers (fifth place, $8.9 million; $80.9 million) is also sticking around.
- Let it be noted: The generally liked The Incredible Hulk ($287,000; $133.8 million overall, per Box Office Mojo) has made more money than the widely scorned Hulk ($132.2 million). Until you add in the foreign grosses.
- The Philip Roth-spawned drama Elegy, starring Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz, was, screen for screen, the biggest hit of the weekend, taking in $102,441 at six theaters.
Here's a recap of the top-grossing weekend films based on Friday-Sunday estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
- The Dark Knight, $26 million
- Pineapple Express, $22.4 million
- The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, $16.1 million
- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, $10.8 million
- Step Brothers, $8.9 million
- Mamma Mia!, $8.1 million
- Journey to the Center of the Earth, $4.9 million
- Hancock, $3.3 million
- Swing Vote, $3.1 million
- WALL-E, $3 million