July 9, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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We’re now just over 10 days from the 12:01AM July 20 launch of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, the summer’s last mammoth movie event, and The Hollywood Reporter has provided the first hard information about the epic’s prerelease tracking.  Not surprisingly, it’s through the roof, slightly below or above (depending on the metric used) the numbers last seen by The Avengers before its record-breaking launch.

2008’s The Dark Knight currently has the #3 opening weekend of all time with $158.4M.  Rises is expected to beat that, unless the buzz goes bad.  It has a fair shot of moving past Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2), which is currently in 2d place with $169.2M.  However, it’s unlikely to surpass Avengers, which crushed Harry with its $207.4M opening this year.  The reason is simple:  Avengers was in 3D, which means that a significant portion of its tickets were sold at a 20-30% premium over regular price.  Even if only half the Avengers audience opted for 3D, Rises would need millions of extra people to go see it on opening weekend just to match Avengers‘ dollar total.  (Rises is also about 20 minutes longer than Avengers, but in these days where multiplexes can throw movies onto as many screens as they want, with new shows every hour or half-hour, running time isn’t a major consideration for event movies.)

The one potential hole card that Rises could have is from a very old-fashioned source:  reviews.  If the overwhelming word is that The Dark Knight Rises isn’t merely the fun thrill-ride of Avengers but a possibly Oscar-worthy Event, that could pull in audiences that aren’t currently responding to the tracking surveys, and all bets would be off.  There were online reports over the weekend of a standing ovation at the movie’s first completed critics’ screening, but word was that those “critics” were mostly junketeers whose standards aren’t particularly high.  Warners is requiring real critics who attend advance screenings to agree to an embargo until Tuesday July 17 (although it wouldn’t be a shock if Variety and the Reporter get a day or two head start on that, per industry custom), so we have about a week until we’ll get a real sense of just how high this bat may fly.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."