'Mamma Mia!' Sets a Record Of Its Own

There was another record-breaker at theaters this weekend, and it didn't involve men in bat suits.

"Mamma Mia!", the ABBA-inspired film starring Meryl Streep, quietly enjoyed the strongest debut for a musical. If estimates hold, "Mamma Mia!'s" $27.6 million opening will squeak by Hairspray, which set the mark last year with $27.5 million.

It was all part of the busiest weekend ever as more than $258 million poured into the box office, Nielsen EDI reported. The old record was $218 million over the weekend of July 2, 2006.

"Certainly, "The Dark Knight" tide lifted all boats," says Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations. "But "Mamma Mia!" pulled off quite a feat, because they did it with very little press."

According to distributor Universal Pictures, 75% of the "Mamma Mia!" audience was female, 64% of them 30 and older.

"You feel a little guilty bragging when "Dark Knight" was so huge, but we're proud," the studio's Nikki Rocco says. "Older women are saying, 'If there are movies for us, we'll be out there, too.' "

"Hancock" was third with $14 million. "Journey to the Center of the Earth" was fourth with $11.9 million.

Final figures are out Monday.