"The Dark Knight" continues to obliterate box-office records, crossing the $300-million mark in just 10 days.
The Batman saga grossed $75.6 million in its second weekend in theaters, pushing its domestic total to $314 million, according to an estimate Sunday by Warner Bros. head of distribution Dan Fellman.
That surpasses the record set in 2006 by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," which took 16 days to make $300 million.
The latest Batman installment, produced for about $180 million, already had broken records for best opening weekend at $158.4 million and best single-day sales of $66.4 million. It's also busted records in its showings on Imax screens, making $16.3 million in its first 10 days.
Fellman said "Dark Knight" could reach $400 million in about 18 days, which would beat the record "Shrek 2" set in 2004 when it made that much money in 43 days.
"We've been getting a lot of repeat business coming in," Fellman said.
"The Dark Knight" could pass "Titanic" as the highest-grossing film in U.S. history, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media by Numbers. James Cameron's 1997 extravaganza made $600 million domestically, a record no other movie has come close to touching.
"The 'Titanic' record has sat in a lockbox for 10 years. It's a tall order, but if any film has a chance to surpass that number, it's got to be 'Dark Knight,' " Dergarabedian said.
Director Christopher Nolan's follow-up to his 2005 origin story "Batman Begins," which again stars Christian Bale as the tormented comic-book crime fighter, initially benefited from the mystique of the late Heath Ledger giving his masterful, last performance as the Joker, Dergarabedian said.
"Now, it's all about word of mouth," he said.
Part of the film's visual allure comes from the fact that 30 minutes of it were shot with Imax cameras, including an elaborate bank-heist scene.
Nolan "has clearly hit upon something," said Greg Foster, president of Imax Filmed Entertainment. "There are many important filmmakers who we've spoken with in the last couple of weeks about shooting with Imax cameras."
Coming in second place was "Step Brothers," which had a strong opening of its own with $30 million. The comedy reunites Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, co-stars of "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," as grown men who've never left home and are forced to share a bedroom when their parents get married.
Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony, said this was at the high end of the studio's expectations.
Sony also has the Will Smith superhero flick "Hancock," which made $8.2 million this past weekend, crossing the $200-million mark.
The weekend's other big release was "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," which made an estimated $10.2 million. Six years since the pioneering sci-fi show went off the air, this latest installment finds Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) re-teaming to solve a missing-persons case.
"The hard-core 'X-Files' fans, they're happy. And frankly, that's who the movie was made for," said Chris Aronson, distribution executive for 20th Century Fox.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
Estimated ticket sales Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media by Numbers.
1. The Dark Knight": $75.63 million.
2. "Step Brothers," $30 million.
3. "Mamma Mia!" $17.9 million.
4. "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," $10.2 million.
5. "Journey to the Center of the Earth," $9.4 million.
6. "Hancock," $8.2 million.
7. "WALL-E," $6.3 million.
8. "Hellboy II: The Golden Army," $4.9 million.
9. "Space Chimps," $4.4 million.
10.. "Wanted," $2.7 million.
Source: The Associated Press