Launching at more than 4,400 total theaters this weekend, "The Dark Knight Rises" finally arrives and promises to deliver on the hype that has been building for the last couple of years. Though it will be a tall order to match the eye-popping $207 million debut of "The Avengers" back in May, numbers are expected to be nearly as big for "The Dark Knight Rises" as shows sellout all over the country. With "The Dark Knight Rises" playing mostly to mainstream action audiences, "Ice Age: Continental Drift" and "Ted" should still bring in strong numbers in what could end up being the most lucrative weekend of the year at the box office.
When "The Dark Knight" hit theaters in 2008 following the tragic death of co-star Heath Ledger, the movie became nothing short of a phenomenon due to rave reviews and powerful fan support. "The Dark Knight" went on to rack up a record $158 million in its first weekend in theaters on its way to an impressive $533 million domestic haul, with worldwide revenues totaling more than $1 billion. Launching around the same time in July, "The Dark Knight" was also far from a one-weekend-wonder, as it stayed atop the charts for four consecutive weekends.
With the hype increasing to incredible levels, "The Dark Knight Rises" is an absolute lock to be a box office smash hit - even with reviews that aren't quite as good as its predecessor. Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine all reprise their roles in "Rises," and new additions like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy have helped keep the buzz very strong heading into its first weekend.
The only real question is how big the opening weekend will be. Though "Rises" still has an advantageous release date, it's not quite as optimal as the spot that "The Avengers" had when it hit theaters at the beginning of May. While "Rises" has at least some competition left from "The Amazing Spider-Man," mainstream audiences were completely devoted to "The Avengers" due to a lack of competition, leading to a historic debut that surpassed the unbelievable hype.
Even without a record-breaking opening, though, "The Dark Knight Rises" should still be in good position to land as the biggest overall earner of 2012. The "Batman" audience proved to be very faithful back in 2008 - helping it land in the top ten for more than two months straight - and we should see a similar type of commitment for the finale of the trilogy. Look for "The Dark Knight Rises" to post a spectacular opening that comes close to $200 million and continue to be a major box office factor well into August.
As "The Dark Knight Rises" cleans up with most mainstream audience members, families should still flock to "Ice Age: Continental Drift." Domestic numbers for the fourth "Ice Age" have been strong but not overwhelming, though it continues to do major damage with foreign audiences. Before heading into its second weekend in the U.S., "Continental Drift" has already surpassed $400 million in worldwide revenue, putting it on pace to be far and away the top animated hit of the year.
Also hoping to put up another big weekend is "Ted," which has become this year's dominant R-rated release. Heading into its fourth weekend in theaters, "Ted" will have already broken $170 million in domestic revenue, which is a great total for a $50 million production. "Ted" should continue to ride positive audience buzz over the next few weekends and a $200 million domestic haul seems very likely.
Next weekend, music drama "Step Up Revolution" is one of the headline releases in a slow weekend followed by "The Watch," an R-rated comedy starring Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill. The summer blockbuster season will slow considerably after "The Dark Knight Rises" launches, though movies like "Total Recall," "The Bourne Legacy" and "The Expendables 2" should still find action audiences over the next month.
RTT Box Office Predictions for 7/20/12 - 7/22/12 (In Millions):
1. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Brother): $193
2. Ice Age: Continental Drift (Fox): $26
3. The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony/Columbia): $17
4. Ted (Universal): $14
5. Brave (Disney): $6
6. Magic Mike (Warner Brothers): $4.8
7. Savages (Universal): $4.2
8. Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection (Lionsgate): $2.5
9. Moonrise Kingdom (Focus): $2.1
10. Katy Perry: Part of Me (Paramount): $1.8
by RTT Staff Writer
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