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Dark Knight Rises has sold 10 million *fewer* tickets than Tim Burton's 1989 Batman

By / 08.22.12

Aw, don't pout, Bane.


We all knew ticket inflation was a thing, especially in the age of IMAX and 3D and IMAX 3D, but this, frankly, is shocking. Seriously, I need a new top hat now, it flew off my head and got shredded in the ceiling fan.

The Dark Knight Rises is actually on pace to sell 10 million fewer tickets than Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman.
When Box Office Mojo took the average ticket price for each year and worked backwards from the total box office haul to figure out the raw number of tickets sold for each film, the numbers spoke for themselves. Batman sold an estimated 62,954,600 tickets back in 1989 with an average price of $3.97. The Dark Knight Rises, meanwhile, has sold 50,635,700 tickets to date at an average price of $8.02 per ticket – a 12 million ticket gap.

A ticket gap?! WHERE ARE YOU, JFK, WE NEED YOU NOW MORE THAN EVER! Mmm, history jokes. Anyway, I want to know who saw The Dark Knight Rises for eight bucks, and how they accomplished this. That’s the average? How is that possible? I can’t see a first-run movie for less than 11 bucks. Are there places in the Dust Bowl where a movie costs five bucks and you can get a fine pot roast for a buffalo nickel?

While not an exact science by any stretch of the imagination, the number of tickets sold estimates really put the box office power of successful films into perspective. Numerical amounts like a billion dollars are clearly huge – but when you start thinking about 63 million tickets, one gets a more exact feel for how many people paid to see a film. 63 million means roughly one in four Americans saw Batman at the theater in 1989 (which is again an estimate, some people saw it more than once).

That being said, even Burton’s Batman was no match for The Avengers – Marvel’s superhero dream team has sold 76 million tickets to date, enough to beat both Keaton and Nicholson and Bale and Ledger’s output (The Dark Knight logged an estimated 74 million sales). [Movies.com]

The only flaw I see in their numbers is that The Dark Knight Rises hasn’t yet finished its theater run. It’s at $900 million worldwide right now, and most expect it to cross $1 billion easily by the time it’s finished. Add to that the fact that in 1989, big movies could stay in theaters three months at a time, which isn’t the case anymore. Still, there are approximately 2 billion more people in the world than there were in 1989, and The Dark Knight Rises was an insanely-hyped sequel. It’s a big drop in market share. I’ve been saying this for a while now, and I’m sure part of it is idealistic thinking, but the movie industry has been thinking short term for too long. Studio heads only last a year or two (and like I just said, movies don’t remain in theaters as long), and so naturally, their only concern is squeezing the biggest opening numbers out of sequels, remakes, etc. Which is great for making money in the short term, but if you look at it long term, the film industry needs to make new fans. They’re not building their market, they’re just fighting each other over their shrinking market. There’s a lot more competition these days and a lot more people are content to only go to the movies a few times a year or not at all than there were even a few years ago. To reverse that slide, they’re going to have to do something to change the widespread perception that wide-release movies are out of ideas and it’s just the same recycled bullsh*t on a different day.

At least, that’s two cents from a guy who recycles jokes about his imaginary top hat.


TAGSBATMAN 1989box officethe dark knight rises

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