Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight has become an iconic Batman movie for many reasons. One of Dark Knight's most indelible visuals is no doubt the scene in which Heath Ledger's Joker burns a pyramid of cash, in front of some horrified mobsters. The sequence wasn't a trick of special effects or CGI: as clearly demonstrated by a moment where Ledger's Joker slides down the cash pile, Nolan actually built that mountain of money as a practical set piece. Now one dedicated DC fan has actually done the research to determine just how long it would take Joker and his gang to build the Dark Knight's cash pyramid - and just how many hands would have to be involved.
Short version: the math works out to 16 Joker henchman working 27 hours in order to complete the cash pyramid as seen in the film.
First of all, Reddit user Lundgrens Front Kick makes it clear: unlike past studies of this scene, he's not trying to count the amount of cash that Joker used, as others have in the past:
"I’m not the first person to take a guess at the amount of money (here, here and here) that made up the pyramid. I know it’s a fool’s errand to figure out something that has no answer (that’s why I did it). Instead of focusing on the money, I wanted to focus more on how long it took to set it all up. I did my own math to make sure the answer was different from all the rest. Then, with my new total, I took a guess at how long it took to build. The answer is wrong… because no one will ever know the right answer. However, I’m happy with the total I came up with….even if it’s wrong."
Lundgren's Front Kick then provides a nice handy bullet-point list, breaking down his findings:
"Here is what I know:
- $100 dollar bills were used, and bundled in groups of 100. $10,000 total per strap. (I found some of the props from the film)
- The dimensions of $100 dollar bills are 2.61 inches wide and 6.14 inches long
- The height of 100 – $100 dollar bills is .43 inches
- There are 10 tiers to the cash pyramid
- The money isn’t tied together. Each strap is separate
- It isn’t a perfect pyramid, but, I’m assuming it is to make the math"
Here is what I’m guessing
- The bottom tier of the cash pyramid is 12-feet high, and 20-feet long. (seems right to me)
- It’s all cash. There isn’t a structure underneath the cash.
- The pyramid is made up of $4,680,000,000 (46,800,000 – $100 bills). Which means the Joker’s henchman used 468,000 stacks of cash (4,680,000,000 / 10,000 = 468,000)
- The length of each square tier goes like this (each is 30 cash stacks high) – 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, and 7 feet
- There are 107,640 stacks of cash on the bottom tier ($1,076,400,000). The bottom tier is 39 stacks of cash long and 92 wide (based on dimensions of $100 dollar bill). I did the same math for each smaller tier.
So, while not an exact tally, this is yet an still a pretty interesting bit of math to consider. Admittedly, we never really asked the question of how much effort it took Gotham's crooks to create Joker's crazy effigy, but now we know. Get the full breakdown of this theory HERE:
The Dark Knight Trilogy is now available on Blu-ray. The next Batman movie will be in theaters on June 25, 2021.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.