'Dark Knight' Thumps 'The Mummy,' Rules Box Office For Third Week

Batman's reign will probably end this weekend with release of 'Pineapple Express.'

The Box-Office Top Five

#1 "The Dark Knight" ($43.8 million)

#2 "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" ($42.5 million)

#3 "Step Brothers" ($16.3 million)

#4 "Mamma Mia!" ($13.1 million)

#5 "Journey to the Center of the Earth" ($6.9 million)

It's a magic trick worthy of the Joker himself: How do you make box-office records disappear? First, line up a few victims; maybe "Shrek" or, most recently, "The Mummy." Then slam their heads repeatedly against the cold, hard reality of "The Dark Knight."

"Ta-da!"

Christopher Nolan's second take on the Batman legend is quickly becoming legendary itself, claiming $43.8 million over the weekend to narrowly beat out "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" and claim its third-consecutive weekend victory. With an overall total of $394.8 million, "The Dark Knight" will easily pass $400 million domestic by sometime Monday afternoon (August 4), making it the quickest movie to ever reach that milestone. And it'll have done it in 25 fewer days than the previous record holder, "Shrek 2," a difference equivalent to Peyton Manning throwing 51 touchdowns in his first eight games, or Alex Rodriguez hitting 80 home runs by the All-Star break.

It is already the eighth-highest grossing movie of all time.

Impressive as that is, Batman's record-breaking run only makes James Cameron's "Titanic" look that much more impressive. For all its many records, even the most optimistic predictions peg "The Dark Knight" as finishing somewhere in the $500 million range, about $100 million — or roughly 17 percent — short of the all-time number one, "Titanic," which grossed $600 million, a figure that jumps to about $800 million when adjusted for inflation. Is there any way "The Dark Knight" can eventually surpass ol' Jack and Rose? Possibly, if it's still in theaters come the fall, when well-deserved Oscar talk for Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and, especially, Heath Ledger, begins to heat up.

But forget about "Titanic." The question on everyone's mind here isn't where "The Dark Knight" winds up, but how Batman himself does in the series' inevitable third installment. Can the hero find redemption? Add your thoughts to writer David S. Goyer's and chime in over at the MTV Movies Blog.

In second place, "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" finally answers the age-old question: Just how much is Rachel Weisz worth? Answer: About $26 million. Rob Cohen's foray into special-effects perfection came in somewhat below expectations but still managed a respectable $42.5 million, making it the series' second-highest opener behind, yup, "The Mummy 2" with Weisz. Cohen's got ideas, but only time will tell whether it's enough to green-light a possible "Mummy 4."

Rounding out the top five, "Step Brothers" came in third with $16.3 million, "Mamma Mia!" was in fourth with $13.1 million and "Journey to the Center of the Earth" grabbed the fifth slot with $6.9 million, giving actor Brendan Fraser the unusual distinction of having two movies in the top five.

Upcoming Releases

"The X-Files" couldn't do it. Neither could "The Mummy." Leave it to a couple of stoners to finally dethrone "The Dark Knight," which is what in all likelihood will happen when "Pineapple Express" opens this week. The honor couldn't go to a funnier movie. Also opening is "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" starring America Ferrera and a magical pair of dungarees.

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