Sunday, July 15, 2012

Here we go: The Dark Knight Rises' Opening Weekend Predictions

There is basically one question on pretty much everyone's mind: will The Dark Knight Rises become the 5th film in the Batman franchise to set a new opening weekend record? It seemed to be a foregone conclusion until a little more than two months ago, when The Avengers made the task much tougher with its out-of-this-world $207.4m start. By comparison, The Dark Knight Rises has no 3D help, is 23 minutes longer, and will enter a frame where the holdovers will still be making $70m+ combined instead of the $51m total The Avengers faced. Some may also argue that the tragic death of Heath Ledger in early 2008 benefited The Dark Knight and helped to create a perfect marketing storm. However, there are factors favoring TDKR as well:

1. Its midnight will be significantly bigger than what The Avengers made ($18.7m). The reasons are straight-forward: we are in July, where all schools are off, and The Dark Knight itself grossed $18.5m from midnight 4 years ago, at a time when the midnight phenomenon had not really taken off yet.

2. The IMAX gross. The Dark Knight had $6.3m out of its $158.4m opening from IMAX and set a new record for the format along the way. The popularity and availability of IMAX have only grown since then. Two weeks ago, The Amazing Spider-Man saw 10.4% of its opening-week gross ($14.3m out of $137m) coming from IMAX. The Dark Knight Rises could easily match the percentage given this truly is the one movie to see in such format, with nearly half of it shot on the super high-resolution film. That means we could see a whopping $20m from IMAX alone on the opening weekend.

3. In general, the market has a bigger capacity in July than in May. When The Dark Knight opened, it broke the OW record even though there were two other new wide releases, and they and the holdovers combined for $102m. That weekend from 4 years ago was bigger than The Avengers' weekend even without adjusting to inflation. The Dark Knight's frame would adjust to $287m today, and with no other openers and the holdovers looking at no more than $80m combined, the market is plenty empty for TDKR.

So what is my exact feeling? It'll be close, but the more likely scenario is that The Dark Knight Rises will lose by a small margin for the opening while winning by a similar margin in total, as the summer weekdays should benefit it greatly.

Here is The Dark Knight's daily breakdown for its opening weekend, adjusted to inflation:

Midnight - $20.41m
Friday w/ midnight - $74.09m
Saturday - $52.56m
Sunday - $48.09m (-8.5%!)

Here is what I'm thinking would happen to The Dark Knight Rises:

Midnight - $35m
Friday w/o midnight - $59m
Friday w/ midnight - $94m
Saturday - $57m (-3.4% from Friday w/o midnight)
Sunday - $49m (-14.0%)
Opening Weekend - $200m


  1. accountant_4_JesusJuly 16, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    I just can't see it doing $200M OW. 3D grosses accounted for 52% of Avengers' OW gross, which equates to ~$108M from 3D screenings. At an estimate of average ticket prices for 2012 (~$8 per ticket) that would mean that Avengers sold around 8M less tickets than what it would've sold without the 3D to get to the same gross (assuming that the 3D surcharge is ~$5 each). Because of the longer running time of The Dark Knight Rises, and also due to the fact that it's not in 3D, I just can't see it making up that difference, even with the inflated IMAX grosses etc. I'm thinking more around $195M absolute maximum, but more realistically $185-$190M.

    1. I think the midnight will make up that difference needed to get to $200m. The midnight showings won't really impact how the rest of the weekend performs, and The Dark Knight Rises could gain $15-20m on The Avengers from it alone. Even if it doesn't match The Avengers in attendance for the weekend part, it could still get to $200m OW with a $35m or more midnight.