Warner Bros. held the world premiere for The Dark Knight in New York City on July 14, 2008, screening in an IMAX theater with the film's composers James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer playing a part of the film score live. Leading up to The Dark Knight's commercial release, the film had drawn "overwhelmingly positive early reviews and buzz on Heath Ledger's turn as the Joker". The Dark Knight was commercially released on July 16, 2008 in Australia, grossing almost $2.3 million in its first day.
In the United States and Canada, The Dark Knight was distributed to 4,366 theaters, breaking the previous record for the highest number of theaters held by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End in 2007. The number of theaters also included 94 IMAX theaters, with the film estimated to be played on 9,200 screens in the United States and Canada. Online, ticketing services sold enormous numbers of tickets for approximately 3,000 midnight showtimes as well as unusually early showtimes for the film's opening day. All IMAX theaters showing The Dark Knight were sold out for the opening weekend. The Dark Knight was re-released in IMAX for its 10th anniversary for a week starting on August 24, 2018. It played at the AMC IMAX theaters in Universal CityWalk, Lincoln Square, Manhattan, and Metreon, as well as the Ontario Place Cinesphere.