Weekend Forecast for July 20-22, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
July 20, 2012
When the 2012 summer schedule was set, two weekends in particular stuck out to be watched – the very first weekend of May, and this one. Little did we know that that would almost be the total story for the summer. Still, just months after a shockingly large opening weekend, another comic book movie could come along and match it.
The Dark Knight Rises is the third and last of Chris Nolan's (or at least he claims) Batman films, which started in 2005 with Batman Begins. The first two films did a magnificent job of rehabilitating the reputation of the character after the disastrous Schumacher Batmans, and The Dark Knight was likely indirectly responsible for getting the Academy to boost the Best Picture nominations to up to ten films. Not a bad legacy when you think about it. It also became the fourth Batman film to hold the opening weekend record, proving that you can restore a franchise to glory, and probably led to any number of reboots of other franchises (Hello, Spider-Man!).
Where The Dark Knight had that perfect storm set of circumstances surrounding its release, what with the death of Heath Ledger and his reinvention of the best known Batman villain, and the amazing marketing campaign for it, Rises is having to do things the old fashioned way. There are many more characters to get to know here, starting with the main villain, Bane (played by Tom Hardy), a muscled-up crime-boss with a strange facial apparatus (at least as shown in Rises), the more familiar Catwoman (played by Anne Hathaway) and a character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who's been the speculation that he might be anyone in the DC universe up to and including Superman. I'm in radio silence about plot details so I'm no help here exactly, and I will hunt you down and hurt you if you make it otherwise.
What I do know in very broad strokes is that we're many years after The Dark Knight, with The Batman in semi-retirement thanks to a cleaned up Gotham, which is showing the strains of the effort to keep it that way. Into that steps Bane, who seems determined to shake things up. Hathaway also seems likewise inclined to subvert the system based on trailers, but also probably serves her traditional role as a challenging romantic interest for Christian Bale's Batman. Where The Dark Knight was a superhero film for the Extraordinary Rendition age, The Dark Knight Rises is a superhero film for Occupy Wall Street. If nothing else, Nolan succeeds at being extremely topical.
Perhaps more importantly, Nolan is offering closure of sorts, which could mean big things for audiences. If you look at franchises like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, their fixed end dates often contributed to big boosts in their opening weekends as they approached the finish line. Harry Potter in particular set an opening weekend record last year with almost $170 million. That's since been surpassed, but it remains the second best weekend of all time.