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?

"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?

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.

• 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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