'The Dark Knight Rises,' Olympics Face Off for Europe's Attention

"The Dark Knight Rises"
"The Dark Knight Rises"
 Warner Bros.

LONDON -- Friday night is fight night, and it's not about the judo or boxing at the Olympics.

On Aug. 3, the battle for leisure dollars, euros and sterling will be a straight repeat of last week's bout of the Olympics vs. moviegoing across Europe with Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises continues its march.

Friday across Europe sees the first track and field evening session of the 2012 London Olympics, and the 80,000-capacity stadium along with more than 100,000 plus spectators crammed into the Olympic park in London will mean a full house for the Games.

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And so it will present another challenging Friday night for exhibitors across Europe vying for eyeballs as broadcasters across the zone prep for big television ratings.

In the U.K. and the major territories across Europe including Germany, Spain, Italy and France, the box-office offerings have remained largely robust despite the onslaught of sport on free TV screens.

Anecdotal evidence from all five territories note that box office remains largely unaffected despite the wall-to-wall sport and millions of viewers tuning in.

The U.K. box office was impacted last week as filmmaker Danny Boyle's vision for his Olympic Opening Ceremony began July 27.

But with nothing big opening this week in the U.K. and other studios avoiding the two weeks of the Olympics to launch movies, Dark Knight Rises is tipped to continue its dominance.

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Cinema Exhibitors' Association chief Phil Clapp executive told The Hollywood Reporter that strong midweek performances from movies including Dark Knight, The Lorax and Ted, has ensure exhibitor confidence remains high despite "one-off events such as the opening ceremony."

Said Clapp: "The headline seems to be that, taken as a whole, business remains strong."

And while it is clear that the Games have had an impact on footfall in central London in general, Clapp says he doesn't think it has had a negative impact on admissions in the capital "or whether interest in the Olympics has had a wider impact."

Some theater sites are screening Olympic events to customers for free, while others have tailored additional programming to tap into the excitement of the event in the U.K.

The Spanish are bullish about box office too.

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"The Olympics overall are not really having an effect on box office," said Rentrak's David Rodriguez. "If Spain were to win and go to the finals in something specific like basketball -- where there is a real chance of medals -- and the game were on a Saturday night, then there could be a relationship similar to a big game on Saturday night here in Spain. But on the whole, it's not really a factor right now at the box office."

And in Germany, Dark Knight Rises opened at No. 1 with a box-office take of $9.6 million and has earned $11.7 million so far. It was the second-highest start of the year, behind Ice Age: Continental Drift, which opened at $15 million.

Year-over-year, the box office was up: $19.8 million total for the top 10 titles last weekend compared with $16.3 million for the top 10 the same weekend last year.

So the Olympics haven't seemed to have had a major impact.

And in France, after starting off with the best opening in the country so far this year, Nolan's film maintained its reign over the Gallic box office, selling more than 1.85 million tickets during its first week of release in the territory.

Scott Roxborough, Pamela Rolfe and Rebecca Leffler contributed to this report.

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