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Batman flies high, but he's no Spidey

June 17, 2005|R. Kinsey Lowe | Times Staff Writer

"Batman Begins" swooped into theaters Wednesday with a solid $15.07 million, including just-after-midnight shows, Warner Bros. reported Thursday.

While the Christopher Nolan film on which the studio has pinned hopes of resurrecting the franchise did not set any daily records -- the biggest Wednesday opening belongs to "Spider-Man 2" with $40.4 million -- it was very good, and many in the industry expect the film's opening weekend to surpass all the previous four "Batmans."

It also illustrates how much the movie business has changed as it has grown -- with films opening in more theaters, delivering bigger grosses faster. The first "Batman," directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton in the title role, grossed $13.1 million in 2,194 theaters on Friday, June 23, in the record-setting summer of 1989, according to Dan Fellman, president of distribution at Warner Bros. With late shows from the previous night, the number rises to $15.4 million.

The last one, "Batman and Robin," opened on Friday, June 20, 1997, with $16.1 million in 2,934 locations. "Batman Begins" opened in 3,718 theaters and will be in 3,858 today.

Opening-day audiences for the well-reviewed movie that stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman were about 64% male and 36% female, according to unscientific exit surveys, but Fellman said "that will definitely change on the weekend, because the females will increase as the weekend progresses."

In terms of records, the mark for the biggest single day belongs to "Shrek 2's" first Saturday, which brought in $44.8 million. Earlier this month, "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith" turned in the biggest Thursday ever with $50 million, according to EDI. The highest Friday number is still the $39.4 million taken in by "Spider-Man" on the first weekend in May of 2002.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

*--* Opening Weekend Domestic gross three days Movie (year) (in millions) (in millions) "Batman" ('89) $251.2 $42.7 "Batman Returns" ('92) 162.8 47.7 "Batman Forever" ('95) 184.0 52.8 "Batman & Robin" ('97) 107.3 42.9

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Source: Nielsen EDI Inc.

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