In Theaters This Weekend: July 20, 2012

Well this should be a pretty easy (and boring) post to compose this week. It's not entirely uncommon to have a week with maybe only one wide release and a sprinkling of independents and limited-releases, but this week, "The Dark Knight Rises" opens wide, and literally NOTHING else. I don't blame films for not wanting to get in the way of this box office juggernaut, but it's still surprising that I don't have even one other minor film to talk about. At this point, you'd think it might have almost worked in their favor had one little independent film decided to release on the same day - we'd hear plenty of David and Goliath comments, and even just pundits constantly pointing out the fact that this little film was going up against Batman. I feel like it could have created a cult buzz for the film. But alas, no such storylines.

So this week, I'll talk about "The Dark Knight Rises" a bit, and even try to take a stab at some box office predictions. We won't spend a lot of time on any of it this week, but just in case weren't familiar with this film yet, after the break, I'll make sure you know what to expect.

Just as was the case on this week's CinemaCast, honestly I'm not sure there's a lot to say about the movie at this point. Moviegoers showed up in record fashion for the previous installment of Nolan's Batman franchise, and I doubt things will be much different for this one. Director Christopher Nolan has long made it clear that this series would be three films and only three films, so knowing that this is 100% the conclusion to this franchise has a lot of fans abuzz.

The film has been extensively covered, and it seems like we've seen a new trailer, a handful of new photos, or a new TV spot every day for the last couple of months. I realize that the common American probably isn't as involved in this stuff on a daily basis as I am working on this website, so they might not feel quite the same as I do, but up until a couple of days ago, I was already ready for this to be over with; as solid as the film will surely be, I was ready to get past it all. But this week has been a little different, and I'm actually starting to get kind of excited for the film again. Now that we're so close to the film, I can push aside the overflow of content we've seen for it and just focus on the fact that I'll be in the theater watching this movie tomorrow. I don't LOVE this franchise as much as some, but it's still an epic story, with awesome effects, and overall just something that I feel that people need to be a part of. It should be a fun time, even if it doesn't live up to the lofty expectations that have been thrown upon it due to the massive critical and cultural success of the previous film.

We did a pretty extensive write-up for the film a few weeks back, just pulling together most of what was already out there. I doubt it's anything new to you at this point, but if you want to take a look at it, you can find it here.

As I mentioned just a moment ago, the film has some pretty big shoes to fill. The last film, "The Dark Knight", was not only one of the highest-grossing films of all-time, but it reviewed to an impressive 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, easily one of the strongest showings ever for that of a superhero movie. And though it's still early, "The Dark Knight Rises" is already at an 86%. There's no doubt that critics and fans alike were hoping for something that topped the last, but with the standards and hype set so high, it seemed bound to be something that many would consider a letdown. Still though, and 86% rating is something that most superhero films would die for, and overall I don't think it should hinder the experience too much.

As for the box office predictions, let's see.. Marvel's "The Avengers" set the bar already this year when it set the all-time opening weekend record with just over $207MM. "The Dark Knight" also sits at number three on that list with $158MM. Even though I don't think that "The Dark Knight Rises" will match the overall numbers that its previous installment reached, I think that enough people will want to check this out in its opening weekend that it should gross a touch more than its predecessor. Also, accounting for inflation and more IMAX screens, even if it matched it ticket for ticket, it would still probably end up $20MM ahead or so. I can't imagine that it will match what "The Avengers" put together though, given the narrower market it's going after. "The Avengers" made itself fun for the whole family, while I don't think this film has much interest in appealing to the wee ones. $1600MM to $180MM seems accurate here, which gives it a strong chance to surpass "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" ($169MM) for the second highest opening weekend ever. Regardless, it will definitely be one of the highest-grossing films of the year.

So that's it. What do you guys think? Are you planning on heading to the theater for "The Dark Knight Rises" this weekend?