Why The Dark Knight Rises Will Conquer the Avengers in the Box Office
So back in May, Shaun El-Ters posted an article explaining why he thought Marvel’s The Avengers would be more successful than The Dark Knight Rises. He notes that The Avengers may have been a taste-maker — realigning audience expectations and shifting the conversation from dark and brooding to bubble-gum and hulking — and that audiences may just be less-excited for Batman (who only has two preceding films) than they were for the teaming up of characters that was five films in the making. He didn’t even mention the influence of 3-D screens on this discussion, which is the equivalent of steroid use for a motion picture’s box office receipts. With all that in mind, Mr. El-Ters may ultimately be correct in a debate that is as silly as any we could have as discerning nerds.
But I think Our Girl Friday is dead wrong, and here are some reasons why.
The Batman Effect: Shaun previously argued that Marvel’s The Avengers captured the casual moviegoer better than The Dark Knight Rises has any hopes to. But that simply isn’t true. More people have complained about the overwhelming amount of homework required to even know who anybody is in The Avengers, and it was hard-earned word of mouth that got butts in the seats both domestically and abroad.
The Dark Knight Rises, on the other hand, is preceded by a film that was seen by more people than any single installment of Marvel’s nifty universe. Why might this be, you ask? Because IT’S BATMAN! Everybody knows who Batman is. Everybody knows what Gotham City is. It features characters we know even if we didn’t see the previous installment — which everybody did anyway. Tony Stark may have deeper pockets than Bruce Wayne, but I’m pretty sure the Caped Crusader has the legacy to rub anybody’s tin canned nose into the dirt.
No Comic-Con Screenings: San Diego Comic-Con is Nerd Jerusalem, where warring factions bomb one another (or stab each other in the eye) over whose nerdy thing is the most nerdiest of all nerdome. And as with years past, neither a clip nor a cast member was onsite to spoil the goods. All they did was show off the Batmobiles and the Bat Cycle in a make-shift “Bat Cave”, both enraging and engrossing those most-devoted of devotees. Being withholding has only helped the franchise so far, and there’s no reason to think this year will be any different.
Sheer Uncertainty: I have no idea what’s going to happen in The Dark Knight Rises. Part of that is because I have avoided spoilers like the plague, but it’s mostly because I really have no idea what director and co-writer Christopher Nolan has in store for us in this final part of his trilogy. I don’t know what villains are showing up besides Bane. I don’t know whether Catwoman will be friend or foe. I don’t even really know if Batman is going to survive! Much like the previous two Batman films, I at no time get to be comfortable in my expansive knowledge of this character and his universe.
My girlfriend has said it best: “There was nothing surprising about Avengers.” And while I had to resist the urge to say that she forgot that the title also includes “Marvel’s” and “The“, she’s totally right. While we may have been surprised at how good it was or how much we enjoyed certain characters (read: Hulk), there was nothing we didn’t know was going to happen. And every audience member knew that.
People checked out Marvel’s The Avengers to be entertained. People are seeing The Dark Knight Rises for both entertainment and to find out just what the (bleep) is going to happen! It’s challenging storytelling at it’s finest, and nobody’s doing challenging popcorn better than Nolan.
3-D, in my opinion, will be the one deciding factor in this debate. Marvel’s The Avengers was buoyed by these pricier tickets, and made use of the format better than most films I’ve seen. But if the numbers are at all close, just know that means The Dark Knight Rises did ultimately win out simply because The Avengers walked onto the course with a massive handicap already on the scorecard.
So if The Dark Knight Rises makes more than Marvel’s The Avengers, it was a spanking. If it gets close, it’s still the victor.
But none of this actually matters. There’s Wrath Of God Money at stake here, and Warner Brothers is going to be making it hand over fist. In a world where movie studio executives get to sit back and collect their reward for allowing proven artists to create visionary masterpieces, both Disney and Warner will walk out of the summer blockbuster ring with a well-deserved title. Whether it’s first and second hardly matters when you and your friends are flying to your private islands in personal jets. All we can do is thank them for the entertainment.