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Christian Bale, The Dark Knight

Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Second place never looked so lofty.

The Dark Knight pushed past the original Star Wars Saturday for No. 2 among Hollywood's all-time money-making champs.

Elsewhere at the box office, the Ben Stiller-led Tropic Thunder rebounded from an underwhelming debut to post a $26 million Friday-Sunday take, tops for the weekend, per studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations.

The Dark Knight, knocked down to second place in the weekend rankings for the first time in five weekends, achieved second place in the all-time rankings when it grossed $6.8 million yesterday, per Box Office Mojo. That number moved the Batman movie's domestic total to $466.4 million, and moved it ahead of Star Wars, which grossed $461 million, including rereleases.

All told for the weekend, The Dark Knight took in $16.8 million, and brought its total to $471.5 million.

"Going in I would have been happy with $250 million," Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman said today. "…We went for a ride like the public."

The ride's next stop will be $500 million, a landmark Fellman believes the movie will reach Labor Day weekend.

Only one other film in Hollywood history has grossed at least $500 million domestically. If outsiders still entertain a notion that The Dark Knight can somehow surpass that other film, Warners doesn't, and hasn't.

"It's not going to happen," Fellman said. "Titanic is king of the box office, and will remain that way forever."

At its current pace, The Dark Knight should tap out at about $530 million, or about $70 million shy of Titanic's $601 million record. If that's falling short, then Warners, which, one Entertainment Weekly-reported conspiracy theory goes, pushed back the new Harry Potter movie to next year because it just didn't need any more money this year, will happily accept the silver.

"I credit Christopher Nolan who is a master filmmaker," Fellman said. "He had a vision to take a franchise that had barely grossed a $100 million [with Batman & Robin], created Batman Begins, and we were thrilled at a $205 million box office [with that movie]."

With The Dark Knight, the thrill has been that much more thrilling.

Here's a recap of the top-grossing weekend films based on Friday-Sunday estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

  1. Tropic Thunder, $26 million
  2. The Dark Knight, $16.8 million
  3. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, $15.5 million
  4. Mirrors, $11.1 million
  5. Pineapple Express, $10 million
  6. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, $8.6 million
  7. Mamma Mia!, $6.5 million
  8. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, $5.9 million
  9. Step Brothers, $5 million
  10. Vicky Cristina Barcelona, $3.7 million