A KNIGHT TO REMEMBER

The Dark Knight brought a bright day to Warner Bros. today (Monday) as the studio began a final tally of weekend box-office receipts that it estimated on Sunday would reach a record of $155.3 million. If that figure holds up, the movie would exceed the previous record of $151.1 million for a three-day opening set by Spider-Man 3 last year. The movie also set a record for the biggest single-day gross for a movie ($67.9 million), the biggest midnight preview ($18.5 million), the biggest IMAX opening ($6.21 million) and the most opening theaters (4,366). Nearly overlooked was the fact that Mamma Mia!, which opened in second place with $27.5 million, also set a record for the biggest weekend gross for a musical. (The film took in an additional $26.8 million in its second week overseas.) Sliding to third place was the Will Smith starrer Hancock which earned $14 million. The overall box office itself set a record as the top 12 movies earned an estimated $249.6 million, far above the previous record of $218.4 million set at the end of the Independence Day weekend in 2006. The box office was up 70 percent over the comparable weekend a year ago.The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:

1. The Dark Knight, $155.34 million; 2. Mamma Mia!, $27.6 million; 3. Hancock, $14 million; 4. Journey to the Center of the Earth, $11.9 million; 5. Hellboy II: The Golden Army, $10 million; 6. WALL-E, $9.8 million; 7. Space Chimps, $7.4 million; 8. Wanted, $5.1 million; 9. Get Smart, $4.1 million; 10. Kung Fu Panda, $1.8 million.

KNIGHT DIRECTOR MAY SHOOT NEXT FILM IN IMAX

Director Christopher Nolan, who shot the action sequences in The Dark Knight using gigantic IMAX cameras, says that he "would be very interested in shooting a whole film in IMAX" since it would allow him to provide a theatrical movie that would "be distinct from the home theater experience." In an interview with the Collider website, Nolan said that the principal problem is the noise produced by the IMAX camera's mechanism, which apparently cannot be adequately contained by the usual soundproof "blimp" used for most studio cameras. "It's very, very hard to see how you do dialogue scenes," he said. "And the lenses are so wide, you're shooting this conversation, the cameras go 18 inches from your nose, basically, and it sounds like one of those small portable generators -- that's about the level of volume of it. So to just speak over that and to act as if that's not there is very tough."

ROEPER QUITTING AT THE MOVIES

At the Movies With Ebert & Roeper will apparently become another entertainment magazine show along the lines of Entertainment Tonight following Sunday's announcement by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper that he will leave the show next month. In a statement, Roeper said, "I wish Disney the best of luck with their new show, whatever form it may take." Roeper said that he intends to launch another movie-review show after his contract with the Walt Disney Co., which syndicates At the Movies, ends in mid-August. He joined Roger Ebert as the permanent co-host of the show in 2000, one year after the death of Gene Siskel, who had reviewed movies in tandem with Ebert since 1975, when they debuted on a Chicago public television station. They moved to commercial TV in 1982. Ebert has not appeared on the show since 2006 due to complications from surgery that left him unable to speak. "In the meantime, it is my intention to proceed elsewhere with my ninth year as the co-host of a movie review show that honors the standards established by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert more than 30 years ago," Roeper said. "I will be free to share the details on that program in the near future."

AMPTP MAKES DIRECT APPEAL TO SAG MEMBERS

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has placed an ad in today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times quoting the leaders of the four major Hollywood unions who extolled the agreements that they had signed with the AMPTP earlier this year. The ad also notes that its final offer to SAG would result in $250 million in pay raises over three years, increases in minimum payments, pensions and health contributions, and the same terms for work in new media that were accepted by the other unions. But at a membership meeting on Saturday, SAG leaders bashed the previous agreements and insisted that they would hold out for better terms. Meanwhile, today's L.A. Times, citing unnamed guild insiders, reported that at a board meeting scheduled for July 26, SAG leaders will likely decide to put the studios' offer to a membership vote -- either without an endorsement or with a recommendation that it be rejected.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.