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To Save Gotham, Dark Knight Beats Pirates, Spider-Man

Winning the weekend and becoming the new all-time opening weekend box office champ, Warner Bros.' THE DARK KNIGHT earned $158.4 million (actuals) for the weekend ending July 20. That easily beats the $151.1M opening of SPIDER-MAN 3 last May and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST opening in July 2007 with $135.6M.

In addition, the domestic box office racked up more than $260M in ticket sales, making it the biggest three-day weekend ever in total grosses, per VARIETY.

The Christopher Nolan-helmed Batman film's vfx were by Double Negative, BUF, Gentle Giant Studios and New Deal Studios.

Coming in a strong number two was Universal's MAMMA MIA!, which opened with $27.75M. Songs were from ABBA, vfx was from Framestore.

Sony's HANCOCK dropped to number three with $14.04M (vfx by Furious FX, Lidar Services, Sony Pictures Imageworks and X1fx) and has a three-week cume of $191.544M.

Number four went to New Line's JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (vfx by Meteor Studios, Frantic Films, Gentle Giant Studios, Hybride Technologies, Mokko Studio, Persistence of Vision Entertainment, Realities Studio and Rodeo FX) with $12.34M and a two-week total of $43.5M.

HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY, last week's winner, dropped more than 70 percent to fifth place with $10.12M and a two-week cume of $56.53M. The Universal film's vfx were by Double Negative, FB-FX, Filmefex Studio, Ghost ApS, Hatch Production, Lip Synch Post and The Senate Visual Effects.

Disney-Pixar's WALL-E placed sixth with $10.07M and $182.73M in four weeks in release.

Fox's animated entry, SPACE CHIMPS, opened a low seventh place with $7.18M.

Eighth place went to Universal's WANTED (vfx by Hammerhead, Hydraulx, PacTitle, Hatch FX, CIS Hollywood, Framestore, Ulitka Studio and Tinsley Transfers) with $5.072M and $123.323M in four weeks out.

GET SMART placed ninth (Warner Bros., vfx by AFX Studios, Cinema Production Services, Eden FX, Gentle Giant Studios, Intrigue, LOOK! Effects, Rising Sun Pictures and RotoFactory) with $4.125M and $119.609M over five weeks.

And coming in tenth, KUNG FU PANDA (Paramount-DreamWorks Animation, vfx by PDI DreamWorks) earned an additional $1.86M and $206.616M in seven weeks.

Box office information from