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    Dark Knight's Record Midnight Madness

    Christian Bale, The Dark Knight Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros. Entertainment

    So goes Plano, Texas, so goes the movie nation: The Dark Knight is one hot ticket.

    The latest Batman movie, inspiring thousands of sold-out screenings and countless desperate hunts for seats, grossed a record $18.5 million at midnight screenings, studio estimates said today.

    "That's just a portion of the day," marveled Media by the Numbers' box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

    "I think this could break a lot of records," he said. "Yesterday, I was hedging my bets, but now all bets are off."

    So far, The Dark Knight has the midnight record, topping 2005's Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith ($16.5 million) and, with its 4,366 theaters, the widest-release record, besting 2007's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (4,362).

    The next challenge: biggest opening day.

    The title currently belongs to 2007's Spider-Man 3, which premiered with $59.8 million, also Hollywood's single biggest day ever.

    The Dark Knight was about one-third of the way to Spider-Man 3's record based solely on its midnight gross.

    And things don't look like they're about to slow down.

    Per an exit poll conducted by MovieTickets.com, word of mouth on the Christopher Nolan film is, as expected, excellent. Ninety-eight percent of respondents, in fact, rated the film "excellent" or "very good," the ticketing service said.

    Ticket demand, meanwhile, continued to be high. If not impossibly high.

    As first reported by New York's WCBS-TV, Craigslist was flush with ads from people either wanting to sell or buy Dark Knight tickets. One ad was seeking $600 for four tickets to a Sunday night IMAX screening.

    But the frenzy is not contained to Manhattan.

    A quick search reveals similar ads are up in areas such as Dallas, where someone was trying to get $80 for four midnight tickets to a theater in Plano, Texas, and Raleigh, North Carolina, where a buyer was willing to pay $40 for two $12 adult admissions to a Friday night show there.

    Then there was this one from a seller in Phoenix: "3 tickets to the midnight showing tonight…What are they worth to you?"

    The answer just might determine how high The Dark Knight flies this weekend.

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