Can The Dark Knight Rises top The Avengers at the box office?

Scott Davis takes a in-depth look at the most anticipated film of the summer, The Dark Knight Rises and discusses its potential box office power after the success of The Avengers, and the marketing boom that has exploded across the world over the last couple of weeks, in lieu of its impending release on July 20th…

With over $1 billion and counting since its huge release at the start of May, The Avengers has gone from strength to strength, and is already the 3rd highest grossing movie of all time. An amazing return for a film that was expected to be 2nd, perhaps 3rd in the year’s highest grossing lists, and now it looks set to be the biggest. Possibly.

Box Office Potential

Of course, this being Summer 2012, one film is still to be released that is sure to run The Avengers close, and that is Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy… just kidding. It is of course the return of the Caped Crusader, The Dark Knight in Christopher Nolan’s final piece of his trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, which is unleashed upon the world in 46 days on July 20th. The question of whether or not the film can stand up to The Avengers’ box office feats is one that has had various different answers. The Marvel / DC ‘war’ that has been going on since May notwithstanding, The Dark Knight Rises does have its work cut out for it.

So, box office-wise, TDKR doesn’t stand a chance against The Avengers, right? Well, in my honest opinion it’s doubtful it will beat the opening weekend set by Marvel, but that doesn’t mean it can’t beat it in other areas. Even without 3D, IMAX will be the way to experience TDKR, with almost an hour of footage being shot for the film. Already midnight showings across the US have sold out, and with the IMAX tickets due on sale any day now, it could quite easily beat the records set by Avengers, even if it means it may miss out on the biggest opening weekend record. But there is still a HUGE demand for this film, with people everywhere talking about it even more as the days count down to its imminent release.

What it lacks, however, is 3D. The great (and ridiculously priced) film fad of the 21st century. We all know the score by now – £10 odd for your tickets, £2-£3 more just to see the film in 3D and extra cost for glasses (in many cases, even if you own a pair!). Add all that up, and it went a long way to helping The Avengers with its domestic opening weekend, and its huge foreign box office the world over. It also set a record for the biggest grossing IMAX opening ever, with over $30million generated from that, as well as $19million from its midnight openings in the US. A huge feat.

What may also let TDKR down in the record stakes is the lack of Heath Ledger / Joker. Ledger’s death DID help the huge box office success back in 2008, even if no-one really wants to admit it. After his death, there was a big chunk of female filmgoers who rushed to see the film for Ledger’s final full role as The Joker, who normally wouldn’t have thought twice about it, especially if a Zac Efron / Twilight / crappy Sandra Bullock film was playing in the next theatre. In addition, he was playing The Joker, a villain that has a certain class, a certain draw that makes people flock from all over the globe to see him. This time, Nolan and co. have plumped for Bane, a villain that Batman & Robin aside, isn’t hugely know around the world like Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Two-Face. But this is Nolan’s world, and with Tom Hardy in the role, I’m sure everyone will seek out Bane stories in the months to come.

The trump card for the film, though, could yet be the appearance of Catwoman. Played, somewhat controversially, by Anne Hathaway in TDKR, she is another one of those Batman villains which everyone has an interpretation of in their heads. Many believe Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal is the Holy Grail of Catwomen (sorry Halle Berry), and many a fanboy cursed when Hathaway was cast, as well as her lack of “proper” Catwoman costume and “proper” Cat-ears, but I think she is going to surprise everyone, just like Ledger did. So far, they have kept her origin / character as firmly under wraps as the ending (see Gary Collinson’s article about the “alternative” ending theory here…), which can only help the film’s hunger for success. She is a huge draw for Bat-fans, both men and in particular women alike, and as long as her arc is kept under wraps until July, Hathaway’s portrayal may yet have a say in the outcome.

But having said that, the one thing that separates Avengers from TDKR is its story: This is the end. “The Epic Conclusion of The Dark Knight Legend”. The end of a trilogy that has redefined the comic-book / superhero genre, and without it, The Avengers arguably wouldn’t have had quite the same level of success as it has had. Thousands of blogs, websites, forums and magazines have speculated just how the film will end, and it’s for that reason that we could yet see TDKR displace The Avengers at the top of the tree. Will Bruce Wayne die? Will he survive and give up the mantle? Is Joseph Gordon-Levitt Batman? Whatever the ending, it’s one that, like Return of the King before it, will have millions dabbing the tears from their eyes.

Marketing – Countdown to release

With less than two months to go until TDKR is unleashed upon the world, the marketing has kicked in to gear big time. When the first full trailer was released last Christmas, it set an Apple record for most hits ever; with over 13 million people viewing the trailer in the first 24 hours, a feat that only, surprise, The Avengers broke a few weeks later, when its final trailer was released.

In recent days, that first full trailer was awarded best blockbuster trailer at the Trailer Awards, and it’s hard to disagree with. Spurred by the now famous chant that has become synonymous with the marketing, it gave us some great footage of some of the major beats of the film, in particular then awe-inspiring destruction of a football field, as well as Bruce Wayne seemingly imprisoned by Bane, who chillingly tells him that when Gotham is defeated, he’ll give Bruce permission to die. Truly stirring stuff.

That was until the 3rd full trailer, which made its debut with The Avengers this summer. I have to say, it is perhaps the best trailer I have seen in recent times. The images, the messages, the implications and, more over, the magnificent piece of music from Hans Zimmer, all contribute perfectly to setting the tone for what it sure to be, to quote David Goyer, “lump in throat perfect”.

What Warner Bros. and the makers have done really well though is keep a lot of images under wraps, to the lament of a lot of fanboys. In the TV Spots released recently, they have mainly kept to the same images as the trailers before it , while introducing little snippets to keep everyone guessing, as well as keeping the themes and motifs from the final trailer fresh in everyone minds.

This past weekend, at the 2012 MTV Movie Awards, Nolan, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were on hand to introduce new footage, which only fueled expectation further [see the footage here].

The only negative response from the marketing thus far from fans and critics alike was the reaction to the first theatrical poster (which can be seen at the beginning of this article). Lazy, sure. Photoshopped, probably. But despite its lethargic approach, the image of Batman standing below a burning Bat symbol with the films tagline “A Fire Will Rise” is designed to invoke the image that Bruce Wayne and Batman are in for a war. A war that maybe even Batman himself cannot stop. The newer character posters and banners which have slowly worked there way into the mass subconscious, continues the motif. In one set, protagonists all in black as rain lashes from one side as they break away on the other; the other continuing of the aforementioned war motif, no image striking the chord as well the banner of Batman and Bane on either side of each other, their armies behind them, waiting anxiously for the war to begin.

As much as The Avengers has been praised for its record-breaking run, there is only one movie that almost everyone is looking forward to seeing, and it’s this one. With IMAX tickets due to go on sale in the UK next week, ‘The Epic Conclusion To The Dark Knight Legend’ cannot come soon enough. Only 46 days left to wait…

Scott Davis – Follow me on Twitter.

Around the Web

  • Skull

    It was heath Ledger that made The Dark Knight. When he was offscreen the movie was flat and boring. This one has no Heath Ledger and a generally unknown villain. Will not come anywhere near box office gross of The Dark Knight, let alone Avengers. Many people I have spoken to are not even interseted in seeing this. Avengers has set a pretty high standard for superhero movies… it will take a

  • Jeremiah

    I agree with comment posted by Skull. If the trailers for DKR are the best bits from the film then it is going to fall way short of the spectacle that is The Avengers. Bane is a lame villain.

  • Tornado Tim

    Dark Knight was pretentious… Avengers was fun.

  • Marty McFly

    Catwoman looks hot. Apart from that nothing in the trailers makes me remotely interested in Dark Knight Rises. Think I will sit this one out and save up for my Avengers blu ray when it is released.

  • Murray Lenster

    Bane is the most uninteresting villain I have ever seen. Not a patch on The Joker. Don't know what they were thinking. Can't see this movie doing as well as Dark Knight.

  • Despairing DC fan

    Couldn't be any worse than Green Lantern. Then again, it is DC so…..

  • Jgardner

    I am actually looking forward to Amazing Spider-man. That looks exciting with a great looking villain. I agree that Bane is not on a par with the great villains. Maybe they should have brought in The Riddler, or Man-Bat, or Mr Freeze, or The Penguin, or Solomon Grundy, or…. you get the drift.

  • Phil Shorten

    One thing Marvel does well is mine the stories from their comics and turn them into great movies. If only DC paid a bit more respect to their own comic stories then we wouldn't get Lex Luthor and General Zod foisted upon as ad infinitum. Come on DC – how about giving us great Superman villains like Brainiac? Or the Kryptonite No More saga? Anything but Luthor or Zod! Please!!!!

  • Air_to_the_throne

    Pfftt dark knight<br />With so many Herod taking super power form here we have bane with a hockey mask<br />With a magnitude of stories out there is this the best DC can do??<br />I really cannot see how this will out do avengers. You have marvel putting out much more films compared to DC and nothing of s hit in a while<br /><br />Sorry DC fans

  • Batman Rocks!

    I disagree! I really cannot wait for this movie.. I am the kind of girl that kills for superhero movies and as much as I enjoyed watching the avengers I have to say that I found it moving a little too fast and everything happened at once, there wasn&#39;t too much story and yes I know that it is all about the action and the fun that it was but still… I am sure that the Dark Knight Rises will be

  • tyler

    i love all this talk about how the avengers is a masterpiece amonst super hero movies. Don&#39;t get me wrong really funny, great action, nice story, but it was just a comic book movie. So what they got all the heros, but it was still just that, a comic book movie. The Dark Knight Rises will be a film, with sweeping themes, a fantastic story, and a little lighter on the camp as compared to the

  • Darknight

    why everyone is praising avengers and disliking TDKR on this page. what the fuck is wrong with u people.Did marvel pay you or you are a anti-batman.Nolan&#39;s batman trilogy is a legacy………………….avengers is a joke.Aliens come from space and do maas destruction and superheroes stop it.Really any JLA episode is not much different than this .TDKR is a dramatic thriller.A movie that will

  • Newzealand__middleearth


  • Steinbeck0411

    I am not sure if TDKR will beat The Avengers, it will be darker so less of a family film. The exclusion of 3d will hurt it and really recently what film that has ended a series and is darker with only Imax showing as an extra has killed in the box office, oh wait HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PT.2!!!! Not only will TDKR be a superior film in terms of quality but it may even take over the #

  • Brij

    The only reason why TDKR won&#39;t beat The Avengers in terms of weekend opening is because of the duration of the film. TDKR is gonna be a 2 hr 45 min film which means lesser shows so lesser money. As time passes I believe it is going to make more money than Avengers. I can hardly wait to watch this film.

  • Lg271

    &quot;a big chunk of female filmgoers who rushed to see the film for Ledger’s final full role as The Joker, who normally wouldn’t have thought twice about it, especially if a Zac Efron / Twilight / crappy Sandra Bullock film was playing in the next theatre.&quot;<br /><br />Wow, that&#39;s a massive generalisation.

  • Aswin Shamsudeen


  • the avengers was CRAP!!!!!!!!!

  • Yeah lane like Loki right? a villain who get is ass kit by everyone in the movie, Loki was a sissy villain, Bane will be better.

  • Avengers was stupid and lane…… The Dark Knight was awesome.

  • I may be biased towards Batman, but I have to disagree with some of the comments here. Don&#39;t get me wrong, The Avengers was great and its box office success has been phenomenal, but The Dark Knight Rises looks fantastic and I&#39;m sure Christopher Nolan will deliver in spades. <br /><br />Will TDKR catch The Avengers at the box office? It&#39;s going to be tough. Historically, the Batman

  • I may be biased towards Batman, but I have to disagree with some of the comments here. Don&#39;t get me wrong, The Avengers was great and its box office success has been phenomenal, but The Dark Knight Rises looks fantastic and I&#39;m sure Christopher Nolan will deliver in spades.<br /><br />Will TDKR catch The Avengers at the box office? It&#39;s going to be tough. Historically, the Batman

  • Matt

    My my my… DKR will have sweeping themes? ha ha ha – what sweeping themes did the previous Nolan Batman films? oh yeah… they were dark. That&#39;s a theme? ha ha ha ha ha

  • darkness=boring

    I can&#39;t believe how anyone can think the Batman films have weight because of their darkness… yeah, they have so much weight they are like lead balloons. Boring! &quot;I am Batman and I am so burdened with who and what I am&quot;. Pretentious twaddle!

  • Dark Knight Sinks

    Here in Australia just received a special offer from Hoyts cinemas to see Dark Knight Rises for only $5 when it debuts on 18 June. That is overpriced – I would only be willing to pay $2.50!

  • Dark Knight Sinks

    Ooops.. make that 18 July re my $5 special offer

  • Monique

    Reply to post by Dark Knight – what are you smoking? DKR will leave a lump in your throat? Why? Will it be sad? Bah – can&#39;t wait to see the end of this trilogy. Reboot Batman and give us a real superhero movie!

  • Matt / darkness=boring / Dark Knight Sinks / Monique – please stop spamming this thread under different names. It&#39;s way past your bedtime.

  • Gunther

    Twaddle! Face it Manuel – Avengers has beaten the crap out of Dark Knight. DKR will be a masive failure.