'Dark Knight' grosses $158.3 million

Warners Bros. and Batman had one more surprise in their utility belt on Monday: Turns out the studio actually underestimated its grosses for “The Dark Knight” over the weekend.

The pic actually grossed a record-busting $158.3 million domestically from 4,366 runs, per official numbers released Monday.

Fueled by “Dark Knight’s” opening and the strong debut of Universal’s Meryl Streep-Amanda Seyfried musical “Mamma Mia,” the domestic box office racked up a stunning $260.7 million in ticket sales — far surpassing the previous record for overall gross on a nonholiday weekend, which was $218.6 million.

“Mamma Mia,” scoring the best domestic opening ever for a musical, grossed $27.7 million from 2,976 runs, beating out the $27.5 million opening of “Hairspray” a year ago.

On Sunday, Warners put the estimated opening gross of “Dark Knight” at $155.3 million, but a stronger-than-expected Sunday added $3 million to the kitty. Sunday’s gross of $43.6 million is the best showing ever for that day.

“Dark Knight” is the new record holder for biggest opening for a three-day weekend. Previous champ was “Spider-Man 3,” which opened to $151.1 million in May 2007.

“Dark Knight” earned a record $67.1 million on Friday — down slightly from the $67.8 million initially estimated — and $47.6 million on Saturday.

In its first week, “Dark Knight” should gross $220 million. That record-breaking number would be more than the entire domestic gross of Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” which cumed $205 domestically and successfully relaunched the franchise in 2005. Based on its early pace, “Dark Knight” could conceivably make more than $400 million domestically.

“Dark Knight’s” foreign cume also grew as official numbers came in Monday. Tallies rose from Sunday’s estimate by $1.3 million to $41.3 million from 4,520 runs. Australia led the way with $13.7 million, followed by Mexico with $7 million and Brazil with $4.45 million.

The boffo international opening, while limited to just 20 markets, portends blockbuster biz for the pic akin to its domestic performance.

Warners said the film dominated markets in Asia and Latin America and almost tripled the launch grosses for “Batman Begins” in the same markets.

In Hong Kong, “The Dark Knight” swooped up 64% of the local box office with $2.12 million at 37 — far ahead of the second frame of “Red Cliff” with $571,000 from 35. Screen averages were a stratospheric $57,200 for “Dark Knight” and a still strong $16,300 for “Red Cliff.”

“Mamma Mia!” is already a hit overseas, contradicting the traditional notion that musicals don’t travel abroad. Movie racked up $26.8 million in its second sesh internationally for a cume of $72.6 million in its first two weeks.

Domestically, the weekend restored the summer’s lead over summer 2007 in terms of overall grosses. Attendance for the summer remains slightly down.

(Patrick Frater contributed to this report.)

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