Thousands of avid fans will begin lining up at theaters across the Southland tonight for midnight screenings of "The Dark Knight Rises," the highly anticipated final installment of director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.
Starring Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway, the film is "the most anticipated movie of the summer, if not the year," Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com's box office division, told City News Service.
And if the previous Batman film is any indication, "The Dark Knight Rises" will have a blockbuster debut. When 2008's "The Dark Knight" was released, it posted the biggest opening weekend of all-time with $158.4 million. The film was later bested by the eighth and final "Harry Potter" film and the recent superhero extravaganza "The Avengers."
According to Hollywood.com, "The Dark Knight" broke midnight screening records when it was released with $18.5 million. The film eventually grossed just more than $1 billion worldwide.
Dergarabedian said the latest Batman film probably will not beat "The Avengers"' $207.4 million opening-weekend record, mainly because the film isn't in 3-D, and thus the admission price is lower. But he said it has a shot at beating "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II," even though that film was also in 3-D and earned $169.2 million in its opening weekend.
According to Dergarabedian, only five movies have exceeded $150 million at the domestic box office during the opening weekend -- and "The Dark Knight Rises" will likely join that group.
Universal CityWalk Cinemas will be among the theaters hosting midnight screenings of the film, and many of the tickets had already been sold by Wednesday morning, according to a Universal spokeswoman. The film is expected to be shown on around 19 screens.
Starting at 8 p.m., the theater will have a deejay spinning music. Fans will also be treated to the first public display in Los Angeles of the film's iconic 2.5-ton "Camo Tumbler," the latest iteration of the Batmobile.
Fans have already been in a frenzy about the film. The movie-review website Rotten Tomatoes was forced to shut off its popular online comment feature when some Batman-backers lashed out at people who posted negative advance reviews of the film -- including some death threats.