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Holy Box Office, Batman!

When "The Dark Knight" swoops into theaters across the country starting at midnight Friday, Hollywood is betting Batman will crash through to box office history, CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports.

"There have only been in history 10 films that have opened with $100 million, and 'The Dark Knight' is poised to be one," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers.

The numbers tell the story.

  • "The Dark Knight" will be showing in 4,366 theaters in North America, on more screens than any movie ever.
  • More than 1,600 showtimes in 400 cities are sold out already.
  • And Fandango, one of the largest online ticket-sellers says "The Dark Knight accounted for 94 percent of all tickets sold this week.

    "And some theaters are going to show this movie round-the-clock opening day. That's how much demand there is for this movie," Dergarabedian said.

    Continuing the story set in motion with "Batman Begins" in 2005, this grimmer, darker sequel has Batman, a.k.a. Bruce Wayne, fighting his internal demons - and one in flesh and blood: The Joker.

    "It's simple," the Joker says. "Kill the Batman."

    "He's uncompromising as Batman is," said Christian Bale, who returns as Batman in this sequel. "But the problem is, Batman has rules and the Joker doesn't."

    Heath Ledger plays the menacing, maniacal Joker, who says, "This town needs a better class of criminal, and I'm going to give it to them."

    Ledger's last big Hollywood role before his death from an accidental overdose in January already is generating Oscar buzz and has fans buzzing with anticipation. Christopher Nolan directed "The Dark Knight."

    "With Heath's portrayal of the Joker, though, it was apparent to everybody on the set that there was something very special going on with that performance," Nolan said.

    With "The Dark Knight, it seems the sky's the limit.

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