Box Office Preview: 'Dark Knight Rises' Earns Massive $25 Mil in Advance Sales

 Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan's brooding and acclaimed Batman trilogy is going out in style.

Pre-release tracking for The Dark Knight Rises is so big that the movie should have no trouble besting the $158.4 million opening of The Dark Knight to score the best domestic debut of all time for a 2D pic. The next big question: Just how high will the number end up? 

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From Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, Dark Knight Rises has already racked up $25 million in advance ticket sales, one of the best numbers of all time and underscoring the keen interest in the film, which returns Christian Bale in the title role. Newcomers to Nolan's blockbuster franchise include villain Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway and Marion Cottilard. Returning alongside Bale are Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. Liam Neeson, who starred in Batman Begins, also is featured.

One veteran box office observer believes Dark Knight Rises could debut in the $185 million to $195 million range; Warners insiders say $170 million is a good starting point. "Anything above that is going into unknown territory," one insider said.

Earlier this summer, Disney and Marvel's The Avengers posted the biggest three-day opening of all time at the domestic box office when grossing $207.4 million. The No. 2 opening of all time belongs to  Warners' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which grossed $169.2 million.

Both those films had the advantage of being released in 3D; roughly $35 million of the opening weekend gross for Avengers came from the 3D upcharge.

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There are several factors that could prevent Dark Knight Rises from reaching the level of Avengers, even though some think it could. One is the fact that Dark Knight Rises isn't being released in 3D. Another is the film's lengthy running time of two hours, 43 minutes. 

On the flip side, Dark Knight Rises is getting the widest Imax release of all time, or 330 theaters. Nolan is a big fan of Imax, and shot more than an hour of the film with Imax cameras. Insiders expect Imax grosses for Dark Knight Rises to eclipse the record-breaking $15.3 million earned by Avengers.

Dark Knight Rises will have a massive footprint overall. By Friday morning, the pic will be playing in roughly 4,400 locations nationwide, virtually on par with The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which enjoyed the widest release of all time with a theater count of 4,468.

Dark Knight earned $18.4 million in midnight grosses, while Avengers grossed $18.7 million.

Overseas, Dark Knight Rises opens day and date in a number of territories, including the UK.

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