Earlier this year, film fans were pleasantly surprised to discover that Marvel had successfully raised the superhero movie bar with The Avengers, to the tune of $1.4 billion (at the time of this writing). Despite a solid $1 billion international haul for The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is faced with one of the toughest challenges of the summer – exceptionally high expectations. While moviegoers flocked to the theater again and again for Joss Whedon’s over-the-top superhero mash-up film, most audiences are expecting Nolan to deliver a deeper and more nuanced comic book character adaptation.
Recently, we got word that The Dark Knight Rises would feature over 100 minutes of action – leading some cynics to speculate that the film was ditching story in favor of action set pieces (i.e style over substance). However, confirmation of the film’s runtime should put skeptics to rest (not to mention make viewers with small bladders squirm in their seats) as Nolan’s final Batman film is set to run a hefty 164 minutes and 27 seconds.
We’ve heard runtime rumors before but this time confirmation comes courtesy of the British Board of Film Classification – essentially the British MPAA – so viewers should plan their pre-movie drinks accordingly. The 164 minute and 27 second runtime (i.e. 2 hours, 44 minutes, and 27 seconds) is the longest Batman movie (The Dark Knight ran 152 minutes, Batman Begins was 140 minutes) and the longest superhero movie in recent years (The Avengers clocked in at 143 minutes). The film will even trump James Cameron’s Avatar which, in its original release, ran 162 minutes (though the rerelease came in at 171 minutes).
That said, moviegoers shouldn’t be intimidated by The Dark Knight Rises‘ runtime – considering the director is one of the sharpest modern movie storytellers. Unlike Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which felt overlong at 152 minutes (due to an overabundance of thin character work), fans should be able to expect another deep and methodical character study, paired with plenty of eye-popping visuals, that make every minute of Nolan’s movie worthwhile. Of course, it’s also possible that a number of new characters, as well as returning favorites, could make for an overstuffed mess of a film.
Either way, the length of the movie (not to mention Nolan’s insistence on moviegoers seeing the film in 70mm IMAX wherever possible) has hefty ramifications for projectionists working behind the scenes. To that end, the Liberty Science Center (which features one of the largest IMAX theaters in America) put together a video detailing their pre-release process – including the time it takes to splice together reels, how to operate the enormous IMAX projection rig, upgrades to the system that allow for longer runtimes, and the difference between 35mm and 70mm film.
With a physically intimidating antagonist this round in Bane, it’s only fitting that the The Dark Knight Rises film stock could also crush a man - weighing at over 600 pounds once assembled. Jokes aside, the Liberty Science Center IMAX video should help clear up some persistent questions that Batfans might have about the format – not to mention galvanize a lot of moviegoers into seeing the movie on a true film projection IMAX (where available).
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The Dark Knight Rises arrives in regular and IMAX theaters around the U.S. on July 20th, 2012.