Audience for The Dark Knight Fails To Rise
By John Hamann
July 29, 2012
Before we get into comparison mode, let's think about what went on here. Most of last Friday's showings occurred just hours after the massacre. We woke up to the news of this idiot and the reports of the tragedy surrounded us like a fear blanket as the media hammered the story home all day. I cannot envision a lot of people who had not pre-purchased tickets jumping up and running out to see Batman.
For that reason, I expected Friday's drop to be minimized, as I hoped that more people would attend once a week's time had passed. Instead, the worst case scenario for The Dark Knight Rises is playing out in front of us. The second Friday for The Dark Knight came in at $23.2 million, leaving the third film's $18.1 million more than 20% below what the second film did. The Avengers earned $29.2 million over its second Friday, or $11 million more than The Dark Knight Rises. Even the Spider-Man – the 2002 version – grossed more in its second weekend, at $19.9 million, despite its opening frame being $46 million LESS than the final film in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. The Dark Knight Rises has gone from a box office juggernaut to a film just trying to keep up with the big boys. The next question is how much the Friday number was impacted by the Olympics in London, as most people in North America watched the opening ceremonies in prime movie-going time. Would the Friday trend play out all weekend?
Over the weekend proper, The Dark Knight Rises is estimated to have earned $64 million, off 60% compared to last weekend. The estimated weekend multiplier (weekend box office divided by Friday box office) was 3.54. The previous film in the franchise had a second weekend multiplier of 3.24. A higher multiplier than 3.24 could indicate that audiences avoided the Friday night screenings of The Dark Knight Rises, and chose instead to see it on Saturday and Sunday. This would also lead to the conclusion that that daytime matinees might have been more popular than usual. Remember that The Dark Knight Rises is 87% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, and the Cinemascore was an A. This is not a film that should be struggling.
Comparing second weekends, The Dark Knight earned $75.6 million, 18% more than the three-quel. The third largest opener of all-time now has the fifth biggest second weekend of all-time. The issue is whether it's big enough. The $64 million estimate from Warner Bros. for The Dark Knight Rises is much higher than its Monday-through-Friday performance would indicate. The studio's estimates project a huge 42% increase from Friday-to-Saturday and then only a 22% drop on Sunday. They project Sunday to be 12% higher than Friday, which is particularly ambitious during the Olympics. If the actual numbers do not come in at these levels, The Dark Knight Rises' second weekend should fall to seventh place on the all-time second weekend box office chart.
The Dark Knight Rises was not an unnecessary sequel, or a cash in. This movie is art by Christopher Nolan, and yet people are seeing it in much smaller numbers than The Dark Knight. Where is it going? BOP's David Mumpower showed me some scary math on The Dark Knight Rises on Saturday morning that demonstrates an alarming trend of decay. The Dark Knight Rises could feasibly struggle to struggle to beat a film like The Hunger Games (current gross $405.3 million). The Dark Knight earned $533 million. Should it perform like that, we will have the third biggest opener of all time fail to crack the top 10 biggest domestic earners list (The Lion King holds the #10 spot at $422.8 million). Currently, The Dark Knight Rises has pulled in $289.1 million against a $250 million budget. Its worldwide total is a much more impressive $537.2 million. I beg you people to get out there and enjoy this fantastic film. Let's show this joker who the real bat is. It is us. By overcoming our fear and seeing this movie, we will all become the superheroes we need to be.