The Dark Knight Rises Truly Has A Mountain To Climb For Records

I know it is not a mountain, but really, you try climbing this!

With The Dark Knight Rises nearing its release, I thought I may help all the the Bat-fans out there get some perspective on the odds of the movie topping The Avengers

We are all secretly, or not so secretly, hoping that TDKR is able to top The Avengers in every area possible, including revenue and reviews, but is this plausible or even possible?

Well, I hope that this article may give everyone a little bit of perspective on whatTDKR’s chances are…

Reviews aside, we are going to mainly focus on theater revenue and how much TDKR is able to gross.

However, let us first take a dive into the past…

The Dark Knight was released on July 18th 2008 to extremely high critical acclaim, although not enough acclaim to become an Oscar Nominated movie for Best Picture, and to extremely high box office revenue.  It had a production budget of about $185 M.

The movie sold a total of 73,955,652 tickets across a total of 4,366 theaters.  Only 94 of these theaters were IMAX theaters.

Back in 2008 the average ticket price was $7.18 for a normal screening of the film and $12.80 for an IMAX ticket.

For the movies opening weekend, as we all know, almost every record was shattered.  This includes the number of movie theaters that it opened in, that would be the 4,366 .  On the films opening day, including the midnight showings, The Dark Knight sold out all IMAX venues and grossed $67,152,092 and went on to gross $185,411,483 for the weekend.   These were both records at the time; it went on to have a very respectable total gross of 1,001,921,825.  At the time, it made it into a very exclusive 1 Billion + club (not as exclusive today).

The 1 Billion + dollars that the film made breaks down as so: Domestic (United States) made $533,345,358 and internationally $468,576,467.  Grossing more domestically is now fairly uncommon today as international markets have opening up much more drastically.

This great film went on to stay in theaters around the world for a total of 231 days.

However, many of these records were recently shattered by a movie released earlier this year that we all know: The Avengers.

Since The Avengers has become the bar that many superhero films are being tested against in terms of box office revenue, I am going to give the current numbers for this film.

Note: I have nothing against The Avengers and I have seen it a number of times, so if it seems like I do not like this film at all, this is simply not true.  I just happen to like Batman more…

Prior to its release not many people knew what to expect when it came to The Avengers.  However, with a positive word of mouth reviews, critical reviews, and an extremely brilliant advertising campaign, the movie has quickly overcome its $220M production budget and become a staple in the superhero film genre.

On its opening night The Avengers made a total of $80,813,985 and went on to shatter the weekend box office record by grossing a total of $207,438,708.  This is of course is $49,027,225 more than The Dark Knight grossed in its opening weekend.  The current numbers that I have for the film show that the movie has made $602,083,073 domestically and $837,900,000 internationally (see what I meant about the foreign markets catching up earlier).

But really, what do all of these numbers mean?  &&& what the fuck do they have to do with The Dark Knight Rises???

Well, let me attempt to help with that…

Basically, I am attempting to convey that for TDKR to surpass The Avengers at the box office is a going to be serious mountain to climb.

3D movies are hard on your eyes, they only really work if the movie is very colorful, and usually they are converted in post-production, meaning the film is not even shot in 3D.  Why?  Well, that is because the audience does not give a loud enough outcry about post-production conversion that the studios feel that they can get away with the cheaper post-production 3D (I mean God forbid, it is more expensive to actually shoot your movie in 3D!).  It is really no secret anymore that movie studios know 3D sucks.  They are well aware of this, but until people stop buying 3D tickets, which I do not see happening soon, than just like those horrible spoof movies, they will still be around.

And this is really where The Avengers has a serious advantage…

As I said earlier, in 2008 the average cost of a ticket was $7.18, which accounts for some of why The Avengers has overcame The Dark Knight.  Tickets as of the end of 2011 cost an average of $7.93 and can range up to $11.00 simply for just a 2D showing.  If you add on top of this that the average 3D ticket cost between $3 and $4 more, making that average ticket for a 3D movie around $11.00 and $12.00 a piece!  Then, you have to stack on top of that the fact that the majority of movie theaters are running the 3D version of the film, allotting just a handful of theaters to run the 2D version.  This push of the 3D truly gives all 3D movies the edge of anything that is running simply in 2D.  But it is not done here!

As I said earlier as well, The Dark Knight only ran on 94 IMAX screens (when I say IMAX I am speaking about the true IMAX screens, not the rip offs that some theaters attempt).  Of course today The Dark Knight Rises will run on a lot more IMAX screens and IMAX tickets cost more than 3D tickets, the average for an IMAX ticket for The Dark Knight Rises is $13.50, however the number of IMAX screens compared to the number of 3D screens pales in comparison.  It is really no contest between the two and this is because having a 3D screen costs a lot less & is much more accommodating to a movie theater.  Seeing how they do not have to do any real renovation for a 3D film than what they have to do for an IMAX film.

So, with all of that said, and with all of those numbers given, it really makes you wonder why Warner Bros did not force Christopher Nolan to shoot on post-convert The Dark Knight Rises into a 3D format…  Well, that answer is also simple.  Christopher Nolan is truly boss, since The Dark Knight and Inception he truly has a name recognition among movie goes, one that is in the same league as James Cameron and Steven Spielberg.  He has an 8 film contract with Warner Bros, which is not even half over, and has consistently made the company hundreds of millions of dollars with his film.  He did not want to shoot in 3D for many reasons, but the biggest reason would be that he felt that the 3D format would not be able to accommodate that dark cinematography that The Dark Knight Rises will have, and Warner Bros actually listened and understood this!

Another reason why the film is not in 3D is also because of the name recognition that Nolan has.  Nolan has made no secret of his distaste for 3D and he and some other directors have done an IMAX push, much like James Cameron has done his 3D push.  Warner Bros is hoping that his IMAX push is opening audiences up to go see more IMAX movies, and for more theaters to make IMAX screens.  If they could be successful with this than the revenue that the studio could receive from IMAX shot movies compared to 3D shot movies could be greater.

But, for now, The Dark Knight Rises is really an underdog as far as surpassing The Avengers’s movie theater records goes.  I am not saying that the film will not find a way to make more than $208M on its opening weekend.  But I am saying that for the film do to so, it is going to have to sell MANY MANY MANY more tickets than The Avengers comes down to.  And that is where the real problem comes in.  With that 3D ticket edge and with having so few of IMAX screens, you really have to cover your eyes when the Revenue Stats come out on Sunday July 22nd.

But, there is at least one bit of solace all Batman fans can take from all of this… The Avengers had to have 7 superheroes to be able to get the money that it did.  The Dark Knight and Batman made over $1B with only one superhero.  🙂

Sources: BoxOfficeMojo, NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners), Fandango, LA Times, Huffington Post, The-Numbers, & a shit ton of other sites and online news sites…