'Dark Knight' sets midnight record

Screenings bring in $18.5 mil Friday

Midnight was anything but dark at those theaters across the country hosting 12:01 a.m. screenings of the new Batman movie.

Warner Bros. reported Friday that the early morning screenings of "The Dark Knight" grabbed a record $18.5 million. Of that total, $640,000 came from the large-format screens presented the movie in Imax.

And that $18.5 million haul is just counting the cash from the 3,040 theaters that screened the movie at midnight -- it doesn't include the grosses from the 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. showings that some theaters booked.

To put it in perspective, "Dark Knight" set a new high mark, displacing the previous record-holder, 2005's "Star Wars -- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," which collected $16.9 million in 2,915 theaters when it made its midnight debut.

The Christopher Nolan-directed super-movie, starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, settles into a record 4,366 locations Friday as it sets about dominating the weekend.