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    Call of Duty Bigger Than Breaking Dawn: How CoD's $500 Million Compares With Pop Culture's Biggest Hits

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    Breaking Dawn, Call of Duty
    Breaking Dawn, Call of Duty Summit; Activision

    Video-game fans clearly heeded the Call of Duty.

    The latest installment in the lucrative CoD franchise, Black Ops II, pulled in a whopping $500 million in its first 24 hours on Tuesday, shattering the record for the biggest first-day gross in video-game history.

    The previous record holder was—whaddaya know?—Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which drummed up more than $400 million in 2011.

    So just how explosive was Black Ops II?

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    "To put it in comparison, it's larger than most Hollywood blockbuster opening weekends," says Scott Steinberg, head of video-game consulting firm TechSavvy.

    "Call of Duty belongs to this pantheon of games which have actually transcended to become pop-culture phenomena, and therefore command an audience in millions. To the extent, you'll even see—in select cases—gamers phoning in sick to work."

    Indeed, with a $500 million haul, we bet more than a few bosses found their staffers playing hooky this week.

    But how does CoD's blockbuster first-day gross stack up against the year's other pop-culture biggies in film, music and more?

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    The Avengers, which holds the title for the biggest opening weekend in movie history, raked in less than half of CoD's first-day grosses, with $207 million in ticket sales in North America. By the end of its domestic run, the film had shaken down $623 million—$100 million more than CoD's debut day. (The biggest single opening-day gross among movies, however, goes to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which pulled in $91 million last year.)

    • Another of this year's movie juggernauts, The Dark Knight Rises, didn't even come close to CoD's numbers: Its opening weekend gross clocked in at $160 million, with total revenues of $447 million by the end of its run. (Box-office analysts maintain that the Aurora shooting tragedy, which occurred at a midnight screening of TDKR, kept more moviegoers from seeing the film on opening weekend.)

    • So far, Breaking Dawn Part 2 has eked out $30.4 million from midnight screenings, with experts projecting an opening weekend in the vicinity of $158 million. New Moon, however, remains tops for the franchise, at $142 million in receipts.

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    • In music, Taylor Swift has the biggest U.S. first-week sales for any artist in 10 years with her just-released Red, which moved 1.2 million units. Although its exact first-week grosses are tricky to peg, Billboard reported that iTunes alone sold 465,000 copies in its debut week—more than a third of total sales. At $14.99 a pop, that's easily $6.9 million from the Apple music hub.

    • The Super Bowl, always a reliable cash cow, still pales to CoD: For this year's game, NBC reportedly sold all 70 spots by November 2011. At $3.5 million a pop, the telecast readily juiced up a cool $245 million in ad sales, but well below CoD's half-a-million haul.

    CoD's biggest challenger, it seems, comes from tech land: The iPhone 5 reportedly sold five million units in its first weekend in September, a million more than the iPhone 4S moved last year. Exact grosses haven't been disclosed, but let's do some basic math: The entry-level iPhone 5 goes for $199 (or more if you don't have a subsidized plan). With five million units in the can, this means that Apple's coffers are likely cha-chinging to no less than, well a billion dollars. Game over, CoD!

    (E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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