Batman Broods, Castle Opens Wider This Weekend

When Brunei, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Luxembourg are among your opening week territories you know it’s a wide release. In fact, the opening of Batman Begins is the widest release in the history of Warner Bros. The film has opened at 12,000 locations in the past three days. Nearly 3,900 of them domestically.

So far, the returns have been very solid if not record-breaking. The Wednesday opening grossed $15 million. Global returns have been impressive. Mexico’s $829,698 first day gross, for example, was 150% ahead of the take on similar summer blockbusters such as The Day After Tomorrow and I, Robot last summer.

2005 has not been a good year at the box office in general. For the past 16 weekends, attendance has been down over the same period last year. But with Brad Pitt’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith taking in $50 million last weekend (and $66.4 million as of Wednesday) and the opening of Batman Begins, this weekend should see a reversal of the downward trend. Other big budget films that are continuing to do solid business include–Madagascar ($134 million, so far) and Star Wars Revenge of the Sith ($337 million and counting).

The Batman bow, however, is nowhere near the record-breaking pace set by other films in the recent past. Spider-Man 2 bowed with $40.4 million, while The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King grabbed $34.5 million in their mid-week debuts.

On another front, meanwhile, Disney is continuing its hard push on Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle. The latest animated film from the Japanese master grossed $428,000 on 36 screens last weekend for a healthy $12,000 per screen. This week the film expands to 202 theaters nationwide.