Less than three months after The Avengers rewrote box office rules and took away the record for best opening weekend from Warner Bros.' Harry Potter finale, the studio is looking to retake the record with a $215 million opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.
While The Avengers was released in 3D, which The Dark Knight Rises will not be, Box Office Mojo reports that "Tracking indicates that there's more pre-release interest in The Dark Knight Rises than in The Avengers, and if that gap is significant enough, then The Dark Knight Rises can overcome its ticket price disadvantage and claim the all-time opening weekend record." The 3D issue, as well as The Dark Knight Rises' super-long run time, have led many observers and fans to believe that it didn't have a shot at the record, but prior to The Avengers' mammoth May opening, it was widely believed that anything overtaking Batman this year would be a longshot. In any event, it can only be a good thing for superhero fans if two comic book movies gross more than $500 million domestically this year.
The $214.7 million projected for the final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy would do the seemingly impossible and overtake The Avengers' record for the year's top opening weekend while leaving other recent Warner Bros. hits like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 and The Dark Knight in the dust. Box Office Mojo has used a number of factors to come to the projection, but one of the most interesting actually involves some of Warner's recent hits, noting that the "final chapter" gimmick is an incredibly effective box office driver in recent years, with Lord of the Rings: Return of the King making more than 20% over the series' previous installment, Star Wars Episode III overtaking Episode II by more than 40% and the last Harry Potter film besting its previous chapter by more than a third.
Like The Avengers, the film is expected to obliterate its competition with Ice Age 4, The Amazing Spider-Man and Ted rounding out the top four with a cumulative total of about a quarter of The Dark Knight Rises' weekend take.
The site consistently underestimated The Avengers in its early running, but that was ultimately chalked up to the idea that when you make these projections, it's safer to be a bit on the conservative side so as to avoid creating the mistaken impression that a film was "disappointing." We'll check back on Monday to see whether that's an across-the-board thing or whether The Avengers just can't get no respect!