Monday, July 21, 2008

Batman Soars at Box Office

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Caped Crusader may be rescuing Hollywood from summer box office peril:

Batman Soars

A record-shattering opening for Warner Bros.'s Batman movie "The Dark Knight" ushered in the biggest domestic box-office weekend in history, showcasing the film industry's ability to rally during times of economic turbulence when it has the right product.

Director Christopher Nolan's brooding sequel to his 2005 "Batman Begins" topped already-high expectations and sold an estimated $155.3 million worth of tickets since opening early Friday, according to studio figures released on Sunday. That's the biggest opening for a film in motion-picture history, unadjusted for inflation, beating the previous record held by "Spider-Man 3," which grossed $151.1 million during its opening weekend in May 2007.

The outsized box-office take came as a surprise, even to film-industry insiders, during a year when movie attendance has dropped slightly, continuing the trend of recent years.

As of early last week, some studio executives in Hollywood were expecting the film, which cost an estimated $180 million to make, to sell about $110 million worth of U.S. tickets in its opening weekend. The surprise upside is owing to a variety of factors that helped expand the audience. Those included top-notch reviews and curiosity that has been growing for months about the acclaimed performance of Heath Ledger, who died of an accidental prescription-drug overdose earlier this year after completing his role as the Joker.
I took my boys to see "The Dark Knight" on Friday, and my younger son's been playing with his "Stealth Launch Batmobile" all weekend (the inevitable mass market toystore tie-in).

Batman is the third superhero adventure we've seen in theaters this summer (in addition to "
Iron Man" and the "The Hulk").

I find myself enjoying these films as much, if not more, than my kids do.

Christian Bale's Batman blows away all of his predecessors (although Michael Keaton was formidable). And while Edward Norton's going to take some getting used to as The Hulk, Robert Downey, Jr., demonstrated some captivating essence of the good in his rendition of big-shot industrialist turned Iron Man. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

See also, Kenneth Turan's review of Batman (Heath Ledger will be missed), "
The Dark Knight."

Photo Credit: Wall Street Journal