According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. Pictures' Batman Begins spread its wings in the top spot at the boxoffice this weekend as the fifth and latest incarnation of the Dark Knight collected an estimated $46.9 million on its debut session and a stirring $71.1 million since its release Wednesday. It was the second-biggest opening for a Batman film, behind the $52.8 million of Batman Forever, but it also was the first one to debut on a Wednesday, a practice that tends diffuse opening-weekend business.

Madagascar had a stunning victory over Batman Begins in the key territories where the two faced off this weekend overseas. Based on estimates, DreamWorks' animated family adventure came in No. 1 in all seven of the new markets in which it opened, earning an impressive $17 million from 2,042 cinemas internationally.

Meanwhile, the dark new version of Batman bombarded 73 markets and was easily the No. 1 film overall, but takings of $41.7 million from 8,000 screens were decidedly soft for the comic-book action-adventure budgeted at $180 million. In Australia, "Madagascar" bowed to an outstanding $5.7 million from 255 locations (screen average $22,353) including previews, making it No. 1 with about a 30% market share. This was well ahead of opener Batman Begins with $3.1 million from 360 prints. Mexicans, too, preferred the tale of animals that escape from the New York Central Zoo, and handed over about $5 million from 381 cinemas against the opening of Batman Begins, which earned $4.2 million from a wide 643 prints.

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Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.