The Dark Knight

Warner Bros. Entertainment.com

The Dark Knight isn't king of the world, but it's getting closer.

The fastest-grossing blockbuster in Hollywood history took in another $43.8 million at the weekend box office, per studio estimates, staying on course for a potential run of $500 million—or more.

The latest Mummy movie, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon, did about what was expected, if a little less than the most outsized predictions, coming up with $42.5 million. If estimates hold, it'll finish second behind The Dark Knight.

For The Dark Knight now, it's not so much about where it places—although it's the first movie since 2007's Disturbia to top the box office three straight weekends—but how fast it movie descends the mountain of money it made in its opening days.

If it comes down from the peak gradually—and it was down only 42 percent this weekend—it could become only the second film, after Titanic, to break $500 million at the domestic box office.

Much sooner than that will come the $400 million milestone.

With the movie currently sitting on about $394.9 million, Warner Bros. executive Jeff Goldstein said The Dark Knight should enter the $400 million realm by Monday or Tuesday.

"What happens after this is only a guess," Goldstein said today.

One thing Goldstein wasn't banking on was his studio's movie threatening Titanic and its $601 million all-time record.

"That's so far out of the realm," Goldstein said, "it's not even on our radar."

Movies that should be on The Dark Knight's radar are Spider-Man, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Star Wars: Episode IThe Phantom Menace, E.T., Shrek 2 and Star Wars, the six current members of Hollywood's $400 million club.

With The Dark Knight expected to reach $400 million in record time, a mere 18 or 19 days into release, one or more of those kingpins could be dropped down a place on the all-time list as the Batman movie continues its climb.

One record at a time.

Drilling down into the box-office standings:

  • The new Mummy movie could be the smallest-opening of the Mummy movies. But it's the biggest-opening Brendan Fraser movie of the summer, after the still-chugging Journey to the Center of the Earth (fifth place, 6.9 million; $73.1 million overall).
  • The Mummy did beat The Dark Knight in packing theaters. Tomb of the Dragon averaged $11,290 per screen, compared to The Dark Knight's $10,267.
  • Things went from weak to weaker for The X-Files: I Want to Believe (ninth place, $3.4 million), which saw ticket sales plunge 66 percent from last weekend. At $17.1 million overall, its modest $35 million budget is starting to look out-of-this-world.
  • If Kevin Costner's Swing Vote looked like a throwback to the days when movies were about people who didn't wear capes, then so was its debut: $6.3 million (sixth place), or about what the star's Revenge opened with 18 years ago.
  • If The Dark Knight was holding up like Mamma Mia! (fourth place, $13.1 million; $88 million overall), Titanic would have more cause for worry.
  • Having now passed $200 million overall, WALL-E (eighth place, $4.7 million) stands as the top-grossing (partly) silent movie of all time.
  • Hellboy II ($2.5 million) had a relatively quick but prosperous stay in the top 10. Bounced after three weekends, its overall gross stands at $71.3 million.
  • Wanted ($1.3 million) moved out of the top 10 after five weekends. Its $131.3 cumulative gross makes it Angelina Jolie's second-biggest movie, just ahead of the original Lara Croft, and a ways behind Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
  • In limited release, Woody Harrelson's Transsiberian was, pound for pound, the weekend's biggest movie, taking in $30,200 at two theaters.

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

  1. The Dark Knight, $43.8 million
  2. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon, $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
  6. Swing Vote, $6.3 million
  7. Hancock, $5.2 million
  8. WALL-E, $4.7 million
  9. The X-Files: I Want to Believe, $3.4 million
  10. Space Chimps, $2.8 million
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