‘Batman’ begins a box office crusade

Early returns here and overseas for Warner Bros.’ “Batman Begins” suggest the streak of disappointing weekends may be ending. The movie opened Wednesday with $15 million from 3,718 theaters. Global returns were solid, especially in Mexico, where the film’s $829,698 first-day take was more than 150% ahead of first-day numbers on blockbusters “The Day After Tomorrow” and “I, Robot” last summer. The frame’s only other wide release is Universal’s “The Perfect Man,” in 2,087 locations. The omantic tale starring Hilary Duff and Heather Locklear is aimed at the teen girls who don’t dig guys in capes. “We chose this date because it looked to be perfect counterprogramming to `Batman,’ ” said U distribution chief Nikki Rocco. After 16 weekends in a row that have been down against their 2004 counterparts, the combo of a strong “Batman” bow with a solid hold by Fox’s “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” which opened last week to $50 million, stands a good chance of lifting total weekend box office above the $139 million mark set last year. Warners’ exit poll data showing 64% male aud is also likely to be good news for “Smith,” which tilted toward women in its second week.

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