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Published: 7/21/2008

Kapow! Batman sequel knocksout audience, box-office records

BY LAURA BENNETT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jose Rivera, right in Joker makeup, and other fans lineup to see The Dark Knight in New York City. The movie had record three-day ticket sales of $155.3 million, surpassing Spider-Man 3. (NEW YORK TIMES)
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<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/weblink_icon.gif> <b><font color=red>NEW FEATURE</b></font color=red>: <a href=" /apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080721/ART16/527481229" target="_blank  "><b>Thin Slicing - More Batman links</b></a> 

Jose Rivera, right in Joker makeup, and other fans lineup to see The Dark Knight in New York City. The movie had record three-day ticket sales of $155.3 million, surpassing Spider-Man 3. (NEW YORK TIMES) <br> <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/weblink_icon.gif> <b><font color=red>NEW FEATURE</b></font color=red>: <a href=" /apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080721/ART16/527481229" target="_blank "><b>Thin Slicing - More Batman links</b></a>
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When Aaron Spychalski, 19, and Larry Brown, 18, emerged from Franklin Park 16 Cinema de Lux after yesterday s 10 a.m. screening of The Dark Knight their heads were reeling.

It might have been the sleep deprivation they d gotten home from work at 2 a.m. that morning and stayed awake until the 10 a.m showing out of sheer excitement about the movie or it might have been the fact that The Dark Knight, Mr. Spychalski said, was so great that it gave me goosebumps.

The Batman sequel The Dark Knight has thundered through movie theaters across the country, shattering box-office records and leaving audiences mesmerized in its wake.

In its first weekend, The Dark Knight generated $155.34 million. Former box-office king Spider-Man 3 grossed $151.1 million during its opening weekend in May, 2007.

Even before the film s official opening, The Dark Knight which cost $185 million to make grossed a record $18.5 million from midnight preview screenings, including packed houses in the Toledo area.

On opening day Friday, the movie raked in $67.85 million, crushing the previous record of $59.8 million set by Spider-Man 3.

The Batman sequel also topped Spider-Man 3 for best debut in IMAX large-screen theaters, pulling in $6.2 million. The IMAX opening of Spider-Man 3 made $4.7 million.

Hype surrounding The Dark Knight mushroomed after Heath Ledger s death in January from an accidental prescription drug overdose.

Ledger stars as the skittish, deranged Joker, and brings the role chillingly to life with a combination of insouciant playfulness and cool sadism a performance that has generated speculation about a posthumous Oscar nomination.

At Toledo s Franklin Park yesterday, expectations were high. Many moviegoers agreed that the buzz about Ledger s turn as the Joker was a key factor in their desire to see the film.

We heard that it got really good write-ups, said Megan Kronovich of Toledo, who attended the 12:30 p.m. screening with her husband, Chris. And the whole Heath Ledger thing we heard that he was amazing, and that s a big part of why we wanted to come.

As audiences streamed out of the theater after the showing, enthusiasm about the film bordered on frenzy.

This kicked the other Batman movies butts, Mr. Brown, also from Toledo, said.

Common endorsements of the movie included Ledger s performance, special effects such as vehicles cartwheeling through the air and elaborate explosions, and the action-packed plot.

I liked the car, Gabbey Mackinnon, 15, said, referring to the sleek black Batmobile.

I liked that it was spooky! Austin Modrowski, 9, also of Toledo, declared.

A few lukewarm reactions were attributed to the length of the movie, which runs 152 minutes, though most moviegoers added the constant drama compensated for the meandering plot.

It was kinda long, but you didn t really notice it, said Hilary Nightingale of Sylvania, who saw the movie with her husband, Adam Nightingale.

Gabe Miyar, 4, of Toledo was wearing a Dark Knight T-shirt, but his mother, Christina Miyar, opted to take him to see Wall-E, the heartwarming saga of a decrepit little robot that saves mankind from its own sloth and overconsumption.

It s one thing to know Batman, and it s another thing to know Batman, she said. Although her 17-year-old son loved the film, Ms. Miyar had dubbed the movie too violent for 4-year-old eyes.

Gabe disagreed.

I want to see it because my brother likes it, he said.

The movie, directed by Christopher Nolan, picks up where 2005 s Batman Begins left off, following Batman, alter ego of glib socialite Bruce Wayne, (Christian Bale), as he struggles to free Gotham from the maniacal clutches of the Joker.

I m a big comic-book geek and that was just amazing, Mr. Spychalski said. So amazing that you can t really describe it.

Contact Laura Bennett at:lbennett@theblade.com or 419-724-6728.



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