Summer Showdown between "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises"

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
July 30th, 2012

Summer Showdown between "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises"

-- Pre-Release Anticipation
"The Avengers," produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, is a 2012 movie based on the "Avengers" comics of the 1960s. The film, which features a star-studded cast who depicts the adventures of a superhero team that is tasked with stopping the destruction of the earth, is directed and scripted by Joss Wheldon and had an overall budget of $220 million. Development of the film began in 2005 and continued until production began in early 2011. The film brought on-board some household names in Hollywood, such as Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson. After production had concluded, Disney announced that the film would be converted to 3-D. To help build up anticipation of the film, a 30-second commercial, which cost upwards of $4 million, was aired during Superbowl XLVI. Industry tracking showed that there was strong interest in the film from both men and women; online ticket pre-sales were all sold out before the first showing. Film experts gave positive reviews, and predictions were made that "The Avengers" would surpass $150 million during its opening three-day weekend.

"The Dark Knight Rises," produced by Legendary Pictures, Syncopy Films and DC Comics and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, is the third installment of director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Based on Batman, the DC Comics character, the final movie of the trilogy was given a budget of $250 million, slightly more than that of "The Avengers." The film features recurring actors such as Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as Police Commissioner James Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathon Crane. Production began in December 2010 and concluded in November 2011. Six months before the film's release, tickets were released for midnight IMAX showing across a number of American cities; the tickets were sold out almost the instant they went on sale. In order to promote the film, several advertisements were displayed, such as promotional spots on racing cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the 2012 British Grand Prix. The film was scheduled to be released on July 20, 2012; several box office analysts predicted that the movie could surpass $200 million on its opening weekend and go on to have the biggest opening weekend box office history.

Opening Weekend
"The Avengers" ended up with the best opening weekend in North American box office history, surpassing all expectations. Anticipation for "The Avengers" had been huge, but not even the most ardent fans of the movie could have predicted that it would shatter a number of box office records.

"The Dark Knight Rises" was thought to be in the running to surpass "The Avengers" as having the biggest opening weekend in North American box office history; however, this did not come to pass. There are many reasons why this movie failed to reach the heights that so many people believed before its release that it could scale. One of the reasons was due to some negative movie reviews given by movie critics. Diehard fans of the film responded to these negative reviews by verbally threatening said movie critics; the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes even had to disable user commentary on the film for the first time in the website's history. The other, and perhaps more, compelling reason why the movie was not as successful as some had hoped for was due to a shooting at a midnight screening of the movie in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people were killed, and up to 58 people were wounded; in response to this, television advertisements for the film were taken down due to the tragedy. Also, Warner Bros. canceled many world premieres of the film out of respect for the victims of the shooting. Yet another reaction to the shooting was that many movie theaters increased security; this could have made moviegoers anxious and decide not to see the film. The opening weekend numbers were further hurt by Warner Bros.'s decision not to release any box office figures until after the weekend. Despite this, the film ended up grossing $160.9 million, which still resulted in the third-highest opening weekend of all time.

Overall Response
"The Avengers" has since gone on to claim almost $1.5 billion worldwide. In contrast, "The Dark Knight Rises" has only taken in just over a quarter of a billion dollars worldwide, although the film has only been released for little over a week. The summer showdown between "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises" turned out to be an anti-climax in the end, but perhaps there were extenuating circumstances that may have influenced this.