Will 'The Dark Knight Rises' Earn More Money Than 'The Avengers'?

the dark knight batman

Photo: Warner Bros. / The Dark Knight

When “The Dark Knight Rises” opens up at midnight batfans will hash out whether the film meets expectations; however, the other big ticket on people’s minds is not if, but how this film will fit into the box-office records book. Fans have been pitting TDKR as the must-see movie event of the year, so it only made sense for people to wonder how the Dark Knight will match up against “The Avengers,” which shattered box-office opening weekend records earning an unexpected $207 million.

So, will the Caped Crusader beat out the Marvel crew at the box office? 

So far, the answer is an outstanding “no” from The Wrap, Forbes, and other film sites. 

Surely it has some elements to beat out “The Avengers” ticket sales (the hype, the capacity and success of its viral campaigns, the sell out of tickets in January–nearly seven months ahead of the film).  

One has to wonder how it could not make more money than “The Dark Knight.” Anticipated sequels tend to win out over their predecessors regardless of whether or not they’re well received (i.e. “Spider-Man 3” and “Star Wars: Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith“). 

Variety is already giving projections of $25 million in presale tickets for “TDKR,” far north of “The Avengers” $18.7 million. However, not all presale tickets account for midnight showings. 

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s break this down.

Going in, yes, we know the odds are against the film. Forbes writer Mark Hughes pointed this out in a very poignant numbers argument back in early June

There are three factors being thrown around which will hold the Caped Crusader back from breaking all the records: demographic, 3-D, and showing counts.

Let’s play the numbers game …

Batman the dark knight risesA lengthy two-hour and 45 minute film will lead to fewer screenings.

Photo: Warner Bros.

There will be less showings of “The Dark Knight Rises” than Marvel’s “The Avengers.”Clocking in at a lengthy two hours and 45 minutes Nolan’s final film is slightly longer than “The Avengers” two hours and 22 minutes.

Sure, this may lead to a few less screenings during the day (an extra 15 minutes can add up); however, how many fewer showings can this actually lead to in theatres?

This appears to be the least of “The Dark Knight Rises” worries. Why? For one, “The Avengers” was the longest of all the Marvel films–both “Iron Man 2” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” were two hours and four minutes– and people went out to see that because it was a hugely anticipated film. 

As well, 2008’s “The Dark Knight” was 152 minutes long–a whopping two hours and 30 minutes–and with an estimated worldwide gross of more than $1 billion to date, that film did just fine. TDK also sees the third-highest opening weekend of all time behind “The Avengers” and the final instalment of “Harry Potter.” 

In addition, the majority of Nolan’s films average around 2 hours, save “Following,” so we find this is a moot point. 

To combat the “fewer showings” theory and to meet the possibly high demand for the film, some AMC and Regal theatres around the country are keeping their theatres open all hours of the evening. 

About 10% of Regal Cinemas will air the film anywhere from 24-72 hours. Both Regal and AMC theatres will also offer screenings between 3:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. with the latest showing we’ve seen at 5:00 a.m. in Cherry Hill, N.J

The Avengers Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans

There are no 3-D screenings of “The Dark Knight Rises.”If “The Dark Knight Rises” was released in 3-D, there’s no question as to whether it would give “The Avengers” a closer run for its money; however, Nolan refused to have his final film converted into a cheap 3-D flick. 


Simply put, Christopher Nolan dislikes 3-D, and doesn’t believe movie goers should have to shell out the big bucks for a quickly converted film that’s not up to par. It’s one of the reasons we love him. 

In an interview with Salon, Nolan spoke freely on his reasoning to release the film in 2D:

“I never meet anybody who actually likes the format, and it’s always a source of great concern to me when you’re charging a higher price for something that nobody seems to really say they have any great love for.

“It’s up to the audience to tell us how they want to watch the movies. More people go see these films in 2-D, and so it’s difficult data to interpret. And I certainly don’t want to shoot in a format just to charge people a higher ticket price.”

Paramount knew what they were doing when they released “The Avengers” in 3-D. It’s not clear how much of the film’s earnings were from 3-D ticket sales overall; however, most of the film’s midnight showings were only available in the 3-D format. 

From MovieTickets.com on The Avengers presale:

  • 56% of pre-sales for MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS are from fans wanting to see the film in 3-D.
  • Nearly 37% of pre-sales for MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS are from moviegoers buying tickets to see the film in IMAX 3-D. 

3-D IMAX tickets range in price from $12-$17 across the country. (12 in AZ / 17 in NY). 

IMAX tickets: $12-$14 on average. 

batman the dark knight risesBatman’s dark content may scare away the younger audience.

Photo: Facebook The Dark Knight Rises

Batman’s Not For KidsBatman’s not kid-friendly. Anyone who’s parents were slaughtered and then dresses up like a bat can be slightly scary and give nightmares. What little kid wants to imagine how “The Dark Knight” Joker got his scars?

After the second film, it’s safe to say Gotham’s protector may be a bit too dark for the little ones. 

While, for the most part, we agree, we’re going to go slightly against the tide on this one. 

We imagine 11, 12, 13 year-olds would still want to go out and see this film. Why? The same reason any kid goes out to see a film they’re “not supposed” to see, because it’s “the film” to see. 

If word of mouth spreads that this is the must-see movie, then kids are going to find a way to see it. If it’s the film you tell them not to see because it’s “too dark” and “too violent,” they’ll want to see it. There’s been so much hype out there, it’s hard for kids to not want to see it. 

With the recent cartoon, “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” and reruns of “Batman: The Animated Series” daily on Disney’s The Hub, it’s easy to make the connection that any kid seeing their favourite small screen superhero plastered on mountain dew cans, billboards, and TV ads, would be interested in witnessing him on the big screen. 

Let’s not forget there’s been an entire line of “The Dark Knight Rises”-themed toys in stores around the country. Don’t tell us kids of some capacity don’t want to see the film. 

So, where does this leave our silent guardian? What does Batman have going for him? 

A lot. 

According to Fandango’s Head of Public Relations, Harry Medved, the film is accounting for 85% of all ticket sales. It’s no surprise the film has been the number one ticket seller on Fandango since tickets went on sale June 11th. 

Let’s take a look at a few more factors:

Nolan Fanboys Going Batty For Bats

The viral marketing campaigns alone show how much bat fever there is to see the film.

OperationEarlyBird.com (which will now redirect you directly to thedarkknightrises.com) was an early viral site revealed to give away free tickets at select IMAX theatres to watch a six-minute prologue of the film. After the site was revealed, the free tickets vanished quickly for the December 2011 showings ahead of “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.”

Here’s a look at what the site looked like: 

operation early bird the dark knight rises

Photo: operationearlybird.com screenshot

Monday morning, April 30, thedarkknightrises.com launched a world-wide campaign asking fans to locate Batman graffiti and email or tweet it to accounts. Each mark unveiled a frame from the new trailer, set to be revealed Friday, May 4, ahead of “The Avengers.”

The trailer was revealed in less than 24 hours. The task required the cooperation of Bat fans in multiple countries including Argentina, Germany, North America. It’s not just fans in the U.S. waiting to see this film, but everywhere.

the dark knight rises ticketsThese tickets were not bought in January, but rather June 11th as soon as tickets went on sale.

Photo: Courtesy Sam Acuna

Early Ticket Sale SelloutsWay before tickets went on sale June 11th, IMAX midnight showings for “The Dark Knight Rises” began selling out in January. 

This was the earliest ticket pre-sale since “Avatar” offered tickets four months in advance and “The Hunger Games” one month ahead of time.

Number of screenings:

“The Dark Knight Rises” is set to have as many, if not more screenings than Marvel’s “The Avengers” with its added graveyard showings. 

Not since the final “Harry Potter” film, have we seen so many screenings in a short time span for a midnight screening. 

The title for the most screenings we’ve seen so far goes to AMC Loews Cherry Hill in New Jersey. The theatre will run showings from 12:02 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. in the morning. Not even AMC Empire 25 in Times Square has that many showings (In case you’re wondering, they have 18.)

Forget the lack of super powers, Batman has the odds stacked against him. However, if from what we’ve heard is right, that this may be the must-see film of the year, maybe Batman can pull out the impossible and come somewhere close, domestically or overseas, in its box-office earnings. Without an added boost from 3-D sales, though, it will be an uphill battle. At the very least, we expect Batman to break “The Avengers” midnight ticket sales. 

For argument’s sake, the Marvel team only beat out “The Dark Knight” by $200,000 opening night, and the Caped Crusader wasn’t in 3-D.

With its estimated $25 million in pre-sales, provided at least $19 million of that amount goes toward midnight sales, that puts the film far ahead of the eighth-ranked “Avengers.”

The numbers to beat: 

Highest Opening Weekends

1. The Avengers: $207,438,708
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: $169,189,427
3. The Dark Knight: $158,411,483
4. The Hunger Games: $152,535,747
5. Spider-Man 3: $151,116,516

Highest Midnight Openings:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: $43.5 million
2. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1: $30.3 million
3. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: $30.1 million
4. The Twilight Saga: New Moon: $26.3 million
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: $24 million
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: $22.2 million
7. The Hunger Games: $19.7 million
8. The Avengers: $18.7 million
9. The Dark Knight: $18.5 million
10. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith: $16.5 million

We’ll have a full report Friday morning as the first figures come in for the film along with our thoughts on the movie. 

SEE ALSO: HOLY BATMAN: The 73-year evolution of the Batsuit >

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