‘The Dark Knight Rises’ battling ‘The Avengers’ for year’s biggest box office opening

While most of the country was waiting nervously – on either side of the aisle – for the Supreme Court’s decision on Health Care, Hollywood executives were waiting for one of the most anticipated films of the year, “The Dark Knight Rises,” to make its first appearance on industry polling services.  And, considering the hype, it’s no surprise Christopher Nolan’s threequel arrived at near record levels.

Right now, tracking services conservatively see “The Dark Knight Rises,” which hits theaters on July 20, as opening between $150-170 million over the three-day frame.  However, there is a collective opinion that after the July 4th weekend when “Amazing Spider-Man” and following “Ice Age: Continental Drift’s” debut a week later, that the numbers will indicate ah opening closer to $200 million.  That puts “Rises” in the same range as the jaw-dropping $207 record debut for “The Avengers” in May. First Choice, a key indicator of moviegoer interest, is pretty much the same as “The Avengers,” but the Warner Bros. feature is slightly behind in a few other key indicators.  However, when interest level is this high it’s easy to make the argument “Rises” is as anticipated as Marvel’s global blockbuster was.

The key difference will be in regards to 3D ticket prices.  While “Dark Knight Rises” will use IMAX screens to help boost its grosses and may actually sell more IMAX tickets than “The Avengers” did over its opening frame, the Marvel release had the benefit of higher 3D ticket prices.  “Rises” will only be available on conventional screens and in IMAX.  That may be the difference in determining whether “Rises” can overtake “Avengers” for the biggest opening weekend record. 

Previously, 2008’s “The Dark Knight” held the all-time mark of $158.4 million. That record stood until last summer when “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2” briefly held the crown with a $169.1 million take.

Considering there is a little over three weeks until “Rises” hits theaters, a lot can change. The studio has just begun it’s TV marketing campaign and there should be a barrage of publicity for the film in the coming weeks. Needless to say, it’s going to be close.

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