'Dark Knight' Gets New Leading Lady

Are Reports of Shattering Records Greatly Exaggerated?

With the extraordinary media coverage and early gushing movie reviews, "The Dark Night" is expected to do handsomely at the box office this weekend, eclipsing the $48.7 million of its predecessor.

"There are several reasons why this movie should exceed 'Batman Begins,' and the number-one reason is 'Batman Begins,'" Box Office Mojo's Gray said. "It's a franchise resuscitator after 'Batman & Robin' and 'Batman Forever.'"

Despite early reports of breaking opening weekend records — "Spider-Man 3's" $151.1 million windfall in 2007 currently holds the No. 1 spot — Gray said that expectations for the new Batman movie are "unrealistic."

"The media are in a tiffy over 'The Dark Knight,'" he added.

Historically, he said, only one movie has had an opening weekend of more than $100 million in July, 2006's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," and that had a lot to do with it being a popular, kid-friendly sequel.

Gray said that "The Dark Knight" can fully expect to out-gross "Batman Begins" because of curiosity after Ledger's death and reports of his performance.

For moviegoers, it won't be the last chance to see Ledger on the big screen.

His last movie, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," to be released in 2009, will call upon high-profile actors — reportedly Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law — to step into Ledger's shoes in different worlds. It is, after all, a fantasy film.

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