Box Office Report: 'Dark Knight Rises' Outpacing 'Avengers' in Advance Sales

The Dark Knight Rises Still - H 2012
Warner Bros. Pictures

The Dark Knight Rises Still - H 2012

Christopher Nolan's final "Batman" pic opens at 12:01 a.m. Friday; online ticketing service Fandango says more than 2,000 shows are already sold out, including every midnight Imax run.

Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises is outpacing The Avengers in terms of advance ticket sales, Fandango said on Thursday.

From Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, Nolan's final Batman pic opens at the domestic box office at 12:01 a.m. Friday in more than 3,700 theaters. As first reported by THR, the supehero pic had collected a massive $25 million in advance sales as of Wednesday. That number likely shot up by the end of Thursday.

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Fandango, a leading online ticketing service, has sold out more than 2,000 shows of Dark Knight Rises, including every Imax midnight run.

"Thursday's ticket sales are incredibly strong, as film fans are flocking to Fandango to guarantee their seats for the film's opening weekend," Fandango executive vp and GM Rick Butler said. "The good news is that that theater owners are continually posting new showtimes on Fandango to meet the fan demand, so tickets are still available."

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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? 

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 164 minutes.

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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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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.

Nolan's final Batman pic 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.

Overseas, Dark Knight Rises opens day and date in 17 markets, including four of the top 10 markets -- the U.K., Spain, Australia and Korea. The tentpole rolls out in another 40 markets a week from now.