Box Office Preview: Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na… Dark Knight!

This weekend we see the last potential record-breaker of the summer as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.) comes into the marketplace four years after the success of 2008’s The Dark Knight which set a new opening weekend record with $158.4 million. It went on to gross $533.3 million, becoming the second-highest grossing movie domestically after Titanic. (It’s since slipped down to fourth thanks to James Cameron’s Avatar and this summer’s The Avengers.)

Christian Bale is back in the role of Bruce Wayne and Batman, this time joined by Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Tom Hardy as Bane, two popular characters from the Batman mythos played by actors who should be able to deliver the optimal versions of those characters. Hathaway brings a lot to the table, having appeared in many huge hits including The Devil Wears Prada, Get Smart and the “Princess Diaries” movies among others, and her Catwoman can certainly do a lot to bring in women who might normally not have much interest in a Dark Knight movie sans Heath Ledger. Hardy is not as well known, although he did have a key role in Christopher Nolan’s last movie Inception, an original science fiction premise about dreaming that brought in nearly $300 million, showing that he’s a filmmaker with a devout fanbase of moviegoers who will see anything he makes, similar to the likes of Peter Jackson. Hardy’s other movies Warrior and this year’s Reese Witherspoon rom-com This Means War didn’t fare as well, but it’s helped raise awareness for the versatile and physical British thespian.

Two other actors who worked with Nolan in Inception, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, both should help carry over the love his fans had for that movie, while popular favorite Batman supporting characters played by Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman, are also returning.

We can look at the third installment of many different trilogies that have come before as a comparison although there are few situations quite like The Dark Knight Rises. Maybe Spider-Man 3 is a good example, because that came after the hugely popular Spider-Man 2, which grossed $373.5 million. Its follow-up opened with $151.1 million, setting a new record at the time, even though it was generally not received as well. At the time, Spider-Man 3 was thought of as a finale like The Dark Knight Rises. Maybe a better comparison is Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which made $124.1 million in its first five days compared to the $102 million made by its predecessor. While not a threequel or trilogy, the final chapter of the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 opened with $169.2 million (setting a new opening weekend record at the time), which is roughly 35% greater than “Part 1.”

The Dark Knight Rises is coming into a summer that began with Marvel’s The Avengers kicking things off with another new opening weekend record with $207 million, and many eyes are on Nolan’s movie to see if it can break that record. One thing that may prevent that from happening is the 2 hour 45 minute running time for the movie that may limit the number of screenings, especially in the large-screen IMAX theaters that will be the first choice for many people to see the movie. Because many of the IMAX screenings have already sold out for opening weekend, many fans may instead chosen to wait until they can see the movie in that format. The Dark Knight Rises also doesn’t have the bump of 3D ticket prices that probably helped put The Avengers (and Deathly Hallows Part 2 for that matter) over the top. Not having that bump may be the one thing keeping The Dark Knight Rises from setting another opening weekend record.

Reviews have generally been positive but it’s still fairly early and we think critics will wind up being fairly divided since The Dark Knight is an incredibly hard act to follow. Regardless, it’s pretty obvious the movie will open huge on Friday and we think it will probably make around $75 million or more including Thursday midnights, leading to an opening weekend of between $183 and $187 million on its way to just over $400 million before summer’s end. We don’t think it will match the gross of The Dark Knight as there won’t be as much urgency to see it multiple times for reasons we discuss in our review linked below.


We probably can expect a lot of the returning movies to have huge drop-offs as smaller theaters get rid of them or minimize screenings to free space for The Dark Knight Rises, although family films like Ice Age and arthouse films like Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom shouldn’t be as affected by the presence of Nolan’s Batman finale.

This weekend last year saw the release of Marvel Studios’ fifth movie and final lead-up to The Avengers with Captain America: The First Avenger (Marvel/Paramount), starring Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving and Stanley Tucci, which opened with $65 million in 3,715 theaters, a solid $17,000 per site. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 dropped 72% to $47.4 million and had to settle for second place in its second weekend, while the R-rated Justin Timberlake- Mila Kunis sex comedy Friends with Benefits (Screen Gems), directed by Easy A‘s Will Gluck opened in third place with $18.7 million. The Top 10 grossed $179 million, but since this weekend only has one new offering and it will very likely make more than that amount on its own, we’re looking at another week that’s up from last year.

This Week’s Updated Predictions

UPDATE: Slightly increasing our prediction on The Dark Knight Rises since there seems to be enough screens as many theaters show the movie around the clock to make up for the run time.

1. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.) – $190.7 million N/A (Up 4.2 million)

2. Ice Age: Continental Drift (20th Century Fox) – $26 million -44%

3. The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony) – $17.3 million -50%

4. Ted (Universal Pictures) – $12.3 million -45%

5. Brave (Disney•Pixar) – $5.5 million -49%

6. Savages (Universal) – $4.8 million -49%

7. Magic Mike (Warner Bros.) – $4.5 million -45%

8. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection (Lionsgate) – $2.7 million -52%

9. Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features) – $2.6 million -29%

10. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) – $2 million -45%

The Chosen One

One of the most talked about movies at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was acclaimed photographer Lauren Greenfield’s doc The Queen of Versailles (Magnolia) about “Timeshare King” David Siegel and his wife Jackie, a rich and powerful couple whose business brought in millions every year until the economic crash destroyed the mortgage model Siegel had used to make his millions.

When Lauren Greenfield began this doc, it probably was a very different movie from what it became. She set out to learn why Siegel and his wife were building an immense mansion in Florida that mirrored Louis the XVth’s ornate home in Versailles, but instead capturing the downfall of Siegel’s empire and how it affected their family.

As the movie begins, the Siegel family lives in Florida like kings and queens with 8 kids including their adopted niece as Siegel uses his vast wealth to host parties for the 50 Miss America contestants and boasts of helping George W. Bush win the 2000 Presidential election with his campaign funding. Jackie is a typical trophy wife, a living Barbie doll who has done so much work on herself to not look like she’s in her 40s.

Clearly, the Siegels are part of the 1% and Siegel’s business continues to grow as they start selling timeshares in their exorbitant PH Westgate Towers in Las Vegas. Then the market crash of 2008 hits and it destroys the mortgage business which Siegel relied on so heavily, Westgate has to lay off 7,000 employees, and this is where the movie gets interesting as we slowly watch the Siegel’s lifestyle start to change. Jackie seems oblivious to the problems, still squandering money while her husband goes through a transformation over two years from a proud and confident man to one who is completely broken.

Greenfield also contrasts the Siegel’s situation to that of their Filippino nannies who haven’t been able to afford to see their own kids or families, cutting interviews with their maids and kids–the latter mainly when the family’s wealth is at its peak–in with the day-to-day footage of David and Jackie. Even though he runs the Westgate Towers, David’s grown-up son Richard admits to not being close to his father but still supports his decision to fight the banks wanting to take the towers.

There’s aspects to the movie that come off a bit like a VH-1 reality show with the Siegels taking the place of the Kardashians with Greenfield cutting footage together in a way that keeps things somewhat light even when things are looking grim for the Siegels and Versailles has gone into foreclosure. In one moment, the camera follows Jackie for a return to visit her hometown as her family is forced to fly coach and it’s clear that while the reality of the situation has sunk in with her husband, Jackie is still in denial about what is happening. (Another awkward moment involves David receiving two games as Christmas presents: Monopoly… and Risk.)

It’s hard to feel too sorry for the Siegels because even at their lowest, they still have more than most people, but it’s a sobering film that shows money can’t solve all problems but that even those who are rich were deeply affected by the country’s economic problems, and it also has some interesting things to say about wealth addiction, and how it may be harder to have money and lose it all than to not have money at all.

Greenfield’s movie finds a way to incorporate this harsh reality into a movie that’s genuinely funny and entertaining, which is quite an achievement in itself.

Rating: 8/10

The Queen of Versailles opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday. You can read where it will play after that on the Official Site.

Interview with Lauren Greenfield

On April 2, 2011, James Murphy’s punk-dance band LCD Soundsystem played their last ever show at a sold-out Madison Square Garden and filmmakers Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace (“No Distance Left to Run”) were there to capture the experience as well as the 24 hours that followed in the concert doc Shut Up and Play the Hits (Oscilloscope). Having premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, the movie will play for one night only on Wednesday, July 18, and you can find out where the movie is playing on that one night on the Official Site.

Interview with James Murphy and the Filmmakers

Takashi Miike returns to feudal Japan for Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (Tribeca Film) about a samurai who shows up on the doorstep of a feudal lord requesting that he’s allowed the honor of committing ritual suicide in his courtyard, mirroring a similar request that came to a grisly end. The lord learns that there’s more to the request and a connection between the two men. It premieres on VOD on Wednesday and then plays at the IFC Center in New York starting Friday.

Mini-Review (Coming Soon!)

Alexis Lloyd’s 30 Beats (Roadside Attractions) stars Paz de la Huerta (“Boardwalk Empire”), Justin Kirk (“Weeds”), Lee Pace, Thomas Sadoski, and Jennifer Tilly as five New Yorkers whose lives are interconnected through their sexual encounters during a summer heat wave. It opens in New York on Friday.

Next week, the month of July comes to a close with the ensemble comedy The Watch (20th Century Fox) and the return of the dance movie sensation Step Up Revolution (Summit).

You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the new Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.

Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas


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