The Dark Knight: Are Box Office Expectations Too High?

Published 7 years ago by , Updated July 24th, 2008 at 1:10 pm,

the dark knight The Dark Knight: Are Box Office Expectations Too High?

Earlier this morning, I was talking about how fans online were nerdgasming over the release of The Incredible Hulk last week.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, “nerdgasming” is being insanely pumped about the release of something (i.e. usually a movie but it also applies to video games, television shows, etc.) to the point of “knowing” it’s going to be a blockbuster-level smash because of your excitement level and the fact that the Internet is talking about it non-stop.

And a lot of times, it doesn’t happen. Sure, sometimes the item in question does well – but nowhere near our own expectations and we find ourselves asking: “What happened?” That certainly applied this past weekend when the Hulk reboot pulled in a solid $55 million despite claims by many that it would churn out anywhere between $60 to $100 million(!) That was never. Gonna. Happen, folks.

Now if there’s any film thats going to top the 3-day $100 million opening weekend of Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this year, it’ll be the much-hyped Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight.

But the question is… will it? Personally, I don’t think so and I shall explain why.

When Iron Man debuted last month with those 8:00 P.M. screenings, I decided to take two very good friends of mine (a young couple) and their little boys – aged 2 and 3 to see the film. As we left the theatre, we discussed the next “event film” we had to see at the very first screening and it was without a doubt going to be The Dark Knight. When I asked, “Should we take the boys with us?” all three of us thought about it for about a second and quickly said, “No.”

Just looking at the trailers (as great as they have been), it’s clear that this is going to be a much darker film than Batman Begins. Of course there are rumors saying the film actually pushes the limits of the PG-13 rating with its material. And I don’t think my friends and I are the only ones concerned about putting this in front of small children too young to comprehend the subject matter of said film.

There’s also the issue of The Dark Knight‘s running length – reportedly at 150 minutes. One wonders if the studios will supply diapers for the audience so they can make it through the whole thing without a bathroom break. Although to be fair, both Pirates of the Caribbean sequels (as awful as they were) chugged out $100 million+ opening weekends and they were around that length – so that probably won’t be a factor.

Don’t get me wrong, ladies and germs. The Dark Knight is going to make a lot of money – easily more than the $205 million gross of Batman Begins. And it will have a huge opening weekend. My guess is the film will gross around $75 to $80 million in its 3-day opening weekend. As for its total domestic box office, I think at the moment we’re looking at a solid $240 to $250 million.

But will it reach anywhere near the $300 million mark that Iron Man has reached and Indy IV is closing in on? That remains to be seen. Let’s just not have a nerdgasm over it…

The Dark Knight opens on July 18th

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138 Comments - Comments are closed.

  1. $160 Opening Weekend? No way. It could break $100 maybe but $160 is puushing it.

  2. Yeah your prob right Sahil, 😉 but I bet its gonna go past 100 easy.

  3. I really dont care if it makes $100 opening weekend or more. I am just hoping that it doesnt make as much as Indy4. So far Indy is already at $715 and still has some air left….atleast for overseas market….I think it has a shot of going to $750 atleast if not $800.

  4. I know I’m going to see DN in IMAX because a full 18 percent was shot in native IMAX. I give DN about a 5 percent edge on Indy4 because of that and “Batman Gotham Knight” being released july 8. Additionally what is now probably known as the “Heath Factor”, giving DN another 5 percent.
    So 825M world wide.

  5. Hey Old Man
    Where do you get your facts from? How do you know that a full 18 percent was shot in native IMAX. I was watching the making of TDK and Christopher Nolan said that they only filmed 3 different shots in IMAX so it would look great in the IMAX theater but he didnt say anything about shooting 1/5th of the movie in IMAX.

  6. Wow, now that I’m starting to hear more and more people talking about going to see this movie…I mean people who don’t even go to the movies anymore I’m starting to rethink my 70-80 million prediction. 100 mil might be more within reach and maybe even something like 120-130…I still think thats reaching a little but much more possible than I thought it was just a few weeks ago.

    Was thinking it’s final take would be around 250-270 million and now think it can be go to 300-320…once again a few weeks I wouldn’t have thought it was possible but I went and seen Hancock and 1/3 of the place clapped and cheered when the Dark Knight trailer ended, I’ve heard buzz before for a trailer but have to say I can’t remember seeing that kind of reaction to a trailer at least in recent memorey.

    I still think Indy4 will be tops for final totals…which more than likely doesn’t boed well for the good taste of movie goers because that movie was ehhh…but a domectic of 300-320 and a total of 600-650 million is actually possible.

  7. Sahil,

    I don’t think it’s 1/5th in Imax, but maybe closer to maybe 1/10th. Was only like 3 or 4 scenes

  8. Ronnie
    I started reading your predictions for TDK and almost freaked out because it seems like you know what you are talking about……anyways I am really glad that you think that INDY will beat TDK. I am starting to feel like I made a horrible bet but I guess its too late to take it back.

  9. Sahil,

    Yeah I still think the final domestic and international for Indy 4 will be slightly higher than The Dark Knight. It’s possible TDK could eek past Indy in domestic but Batman has never been a big overseas draw. Batman Begins only pulled in a little over $166 million outside of north america, Batman Returns barley cleared 100 with $104 million, Batman Forever $150+ million, Batman and Robin $130+ million and the first Batman in 1989 only took in $160. So a $300+ international haul would be a huge jump for the Batman series.

    I think double that $166 for Begins is very possible maybe even likely, putting TDK total in around that $650 million mark, but Indy I think has already made more than that.

    It is likely this movie could blow up. The buzz is HUGE! Every day I hear more and more from people a $350 million domestic becomes more and more possible. Still don’t see it because of the dark tone of the film. This is tough one to peg, but I think you still have a slightly better than 50/50 chance of winning your bet with your friend. The bet was for world total right?

  10. Yeah Ronnie but the Batman from 1989’s box office of 160 million would equal about 280 million today

    Returns 104=172
    Forever 150=250

    So ronnie if your overseas BO totals are accurate then I think all the Batman movies did actually better than Batman Begins…I think BB did poorly overseas because of the bad mojo created by Batman & Robin..I think TDK will do massive overseas numbers because of all the great buzz generated by BB and also surrounding Heath Ledger’s final performance.The movie will probably make 30 million is Austrailia alone and another 60-75 million in the UK because that is where Nolan, Bale, Caine, and Olman are from…I look for 300-400 million overseas for this film and I think I am being conservative with that…

  11. Indy IV is up to 720 million WOrldwide :)


  12. Ronnie
    The bet was for Worldwide.

    I just checked the updated total on BoxOfficeMojo and Indy4 is at $736.5M….if Indy gets to $744M so about $8 more it would make 2x what BB made $371worldwide. I hope thats enought. I dont see TDK making more than 2x what BB did…..atleast I hope not. Plus Indy still has legs…It could get to $775 or maybe even $800 but I am being optimistic.

  13. Depends on how many markets are left for Indy. For an example I recently read that Germany won’t even get the Dark Knight till August 21st, so Indy might still have 2 or 3 pretty sizable markets left that could push it close to $800 worlwide. I agree, I don’t see The Dark Knight making anymore than double worlwide what Batman Begins did, which would be around $730, so Indy would still beat it out by a nice little amount.

    $280 worlwide adjusted for Batman 89 isn’t that amazing. It still wouldn’t be amazing for The Dark Knight…it would be a good little haul but wouldn’t be incredible. I think if it takes in around that domestic and international Warner Bros would be pretty happy with around $600 million worldwide tally.

    Batman Begins didn’t perform well at all abroad. It still made a load of money if you factor in worldwide boxoffice and DVD and PPV and rentals. It did incredibly well on DVD when word started to spread just how good the movie was. Your 100% right, Warner Bros had a lot of work to do to revive the series after that horrible Batman and Robin fiasco.

    If TDK was to make over 400 million internationaly they would be very VERY happy and I guess you could say Nolan and company have officially brought Batman series back from the dead. Which being a HUGE life long Batman I’d be one happy camper :)

  14. I wonder what Batman 89’s adjusted domestic take would be, as well as Superman the movie, which back in the late 70’s made something like $130+ million. I would think that one of those two movies would beat out any of the Spidey films attendence totals

  15. Second best thing about TDK coming out next week, no more speculations on what it will make.

    Holly Wooden nickels, this is getting boring.

  16. Well, I can’t honestly say I’m much of a “stats” man… though I’m sure it wouldn’t take much google-ing to present some valid predictions based from past revelations.
    But what I do think is something that cannot be ignored, at least in my little corner of the globe, is the hype surrounding this film.
    I’ll consider myself a pretty big fan of the Batman character… that’s right, the character. The reason I make a point of this particular aspect is because I don’t deem it right to call myself a true fan, as I haven’t afforded myself the opportunity to read A LOT of the lore established through the comics, but have always followed the character of Batman through his various incarnations on the small and big screen. Batman: The Animated Series came to fruition around the time I was about 10 years old – prime cartoon watching age, as well as having set the benchmark for me personally of my expectations for everything “Batman” that followed it. As such, fast forward to the age of 28, and I can guarantee you I will be one those people sitting in that theater opening weekend – with the same anticipation, eyes glued to the screen, like they were some 18 years ago.
    The fact is, I love the character of Batman.
    But when Begins came out, I waited until it came out on DVD to even bother laying my eyes on it. Why? I must admit, I still had a very sour taste in my mouth left over from the joke that was Batman & Robin.
    Once I finally did see Begins, I must say, I was actually pretty pleased…
    And I speak of course without the proper context of actual facts to produce…
    But as far as I know, a lot of people actually did enjoy & appreciate Nolan’s take.

    Enough to warrant their (money’s worth, and) return to see it’s sequel once it hits theaters.

    I will go, because to me, it’s the first promise of a well done full featured “Batman” movie, since I saw the first Burton film as a kid.
    Of course, I could be wrong… we all have yet to see.

    I think Begins was needed… as well as appropriate, and welcomed.
    However, for me it was a movie about Bruce Wayne.

    I – and a lot of people I either know or have spoken to about this movie… are ready to see the next big Batman movie.

    I believe it will do very well – I don’t feel it will break any records, but I think it’s going to do very, very well financially come opening weekend. The kind of momentum it’s gained, I don’t believe will result in just a simply “good” opening; not the best… but likely a noteworthy one. I’m not even generally a movie-goer; but this one makes me willing to step out of my “box” and into a movie theater to watch it.
    If not only to see – and experience – one of my favorite characters fleshed out for the first time… on something other than just the television in my living room.

  17. Ronnie

    Batman (1989)
    US BOX = $251M
    Overseas = $160M
    Total = $411M

    Batman (1989) adjusted for inflation
    US BOX = $465M
    Overseas = $277M
    Total = $742

    Superman (1978)
    US Box = $134M
    Overseas = $166M
    Total = $300M

    Superman (1978) adjusted for inflation
    US Box = $394M
    Overseas = $488M
    Total = $882M

    Spider-man 1 (2002)
    US = $403M
    Overseas = $418M
    Total = $821M

    Spider-man 1 Adjusted for inflation
    US = $477M
    Overseas = $495
    Total = $972

    I can figure out the estimated attendance but thats way too many numbers.

  18. RevOne

    I just have one question…..
    If you love the character of Batman then why did you wait for Batman Begins until the dvd?
    I know that you already mentioned that you pretty much hated Batman and Robin but still Batman Begins got great reviews for a comic book movie. I think it was like an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.

  19. Batman and Robin is one of only two films I ever walked out in the middle of…what a horrible movie. The thing is with boxoffice take, dvd and other sales that movie broke even if not made a profit…sad, sad, sad.


    I hated Batman and Robin as well, but I was there for the midnight showing of Batman Begins, which was only about half full…won’t be able to say that for this one I bet, lol. I was there and was of course blown away, I ended up seeing Begins about 10-12 times at the movies in four different states, lol. Everytime someone said they were going to see I was like “OH…I’ll go” I just wanted to see their reaction and everytime it was one of being absolutely blown away by how good the movie was.

    That along with the hype is one of the reasons I know this movie will be much larger.

  20. Sahil,

    So it’s safe to say just looking over those numbers the first Batman and first Spiderman would be neck and neck in attendence in north america. Also Superman the movie did pretty well also, almost $400 million adjusted…wow.

    Thanks for the numbers.

  21. who ever thinks that dark night will gross more than indy 4 worldwide is insane!!! it will be lucky to compete with iron man numbers. however i do think it could gross 300 mil domestics and who cares about opening weekend there are movies that have had a bad opening weekend that have grossed over 300 mil domestic. AND yes the darker tone will put parents of going with there kids not all of them but definietly a few.

  22. James
    I certainly hope you are right. Idk about alot of movies that made $300M that had a bad opening. The only movie that comes to mind is Titanic….I think it had an opening of like $28ish and it made around $600M. But Titanic was a complete freak. Besides that nothing else comes to mind.

  23. @ Sahil:

    I was actually pretty excited to hear the news they decided on green lighting a revamp of the franchise; even going as far as following the leaks on it’s development until it’s release. My dad is also a HUGE comic book fan, with one of his own faves being Batman. I wanted to see it opening weekend with him.
    I think it was just taking the “wait & see” approach, and then finally once it did release and I hadn’t gone, it just became one of those things I put off until it came out on DVD. I DID however, get it the day it released to home video.

    I think the difference for me with this one (The Dark Knight) is that Begins turned out to be such a good movie.
    It’s a debatable subject, but I actually feel it was not only a good example of a superhero movie, but when looked at as a medium, it was a pretty damned good FILM.

    Basically, for me, THE DARK KNIGHT has BATMAN BEGINS to back it up, where the latter mentioned film, was a shot in the dark.
    I think a lot of people, comic fans AND non-comic fans, enjoyed the first movie enough to actually want to go out and see this one; So I think it’ll do pretty well.

  24. I personally think that The Dark Knight will break box office records I don;t ever recall a hype as big as one for TDK. I was at the movie theater this week end and they are already selling ticket for it. With shows started at 12:25 a.m and running all night. There’s shows starting at 4 and 6 friday morning, i’ve never seen that for a movie. I purchased 4 myself and they are for the second showing that starts at 1 the first show was already sold out.

  25. @ Tyler

    DAMN! That sucks for me.

  26. I have never seen as much hype for a movie as this one. Spiderman 3 hype was about half the level that the Dark Knight hype is at, plus with rave reviews I think you it will draw huge crowds. Trust me, Indy got over 300 million and had a very weak audience from the younger generation was not nearly as anticipated as the dark knight is (At least from the word of mouth I have heard) Im predicting 300 million plus box office and 120 million plus opening weekend from the Dark Knight…

  27. @ Dan

    Iron Man got like a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes which is excellent and it made a huge boat load of money. I think TDK will make around the same amount if not a little more.

  28. Warner Bros is trying to tone down the hype a little, but even they are predicting 90-100 million opening now. Many industry insiders are saying $130 million plus now. When the studio is trying “tone things down” and still saying 90-100 is a more modest projection it’s looking HUGE! Still don’t think it will pass $150 million but looking like it’s more and more possible every day. Here in Baltimore I’ve heard rumors of 3am, 6am and 9am shows at many venues Friday morning.

    I’ll still say it’s won’t break Spiderman 3’s three day record but I’ll have to say I think $120 million opening weekend is looking more and more likely now with every passing day. That might actually be conservative, unless the time of the film and the dark subject matter hurts it like some (now less and less) industry insiders think it will.

    TDK was a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes a day or two ago and haven’t read a bad review yet and now the bigger name critics reviews are rolling with nothing but praise. It’ll be bigger than Iron Man as long as the dark tone and time (which is a bigger factor because it will lessen the show times per day by one showing per screen) doesn’t detract from the crowds

  29. Sahil,

    You can’t compare the box office totals of Titanic to anything now because it was out for so much longer than a movie is now. Most people I know don’t even go to the movies anymore, they just wait for movies to come out on DVD because it will be out in only a bout 3-4 months in many cases. That has really hurt movies racking in more and more money. Now studios are looking to milk as much as possible in the first couple weekends, after that it’s all gravy.

    I think the movie industry has really suffered for it to be honest. Movies like The Dark Knight with the hype around it in the old days at these ticket prices running for at least 8 to 10 months your talking about it pulling in something like $500 million at least.

    Star Wars in 1977 with ticket prices many place $1.50 and $2 at the most brought in almost $220-240 million in it’s first run in 77 and 78 because there was no video or dvd, no internet for bootlegs. You either went to the movies to see it or you didn’t see it. It’s not like that now.

    The Dark Knight will make over $300 million, almost no doubt in my mind. Looking like it will pull in well over $200 million in it’s first ten days alone.