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    The Billion-Dollar Batman

    The Dark Knight Warner Bros. Entertainment.com

    It's going to happen. Maybe it already has.

    As of midweek, The Dark Knight's worldwide haul stood at a reported $997.6 million. Box office experts said that $1 billion, a mountain of money amassed by only three other movies in Hollywood history, was perhaps two weeks away.

    "Dark Knight’s at a trickle now with no new territories," Box Office Mojo's Brandon Gray said in an email. "[But] it’s possible that it already has [hit the billion-dollar mark], as unreported grosses can suddenly come in."

    Exhibitor Relations' Jeff Bock speculated that Warner Bros. was perhaps waiting for the right moment—like, oh, say, the movie's Dec. 9 DVD release—to spring the announcement.

    As for the studio, when asked how far its movie had to go to reach $1 billion, its answer was: "Not yet."

    The only three current members of Hollywood's billion-dollar club are Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. On the domestic side, The Dark Knight is, with Titanic, one of only two movies to pass $500 million. (Titanic, of course, also topped $600 million to claim its box office crown.)

    After setting box office land-speed records in the summer, The Dark Knight has spent the last several weeks gutting out five-figure days. By comparison, at the same point in its run, Titanic, even with 1998 ticket prices, was still capable of $1 million days.

    In an apparent attempt to spur on its marathon runner, Warners is boosting The Dark Knight's release by 200-plus theaters this weekend.

    Even (almost) billionaires can use a hand.

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