With “The Dark Knight” opening Friday, summer 2008 will see five superhero movies have come through the box office.
All of the first four – “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Hancock” and “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” have held their own at the box office. At $313.5 million, “Iron Man” is the year’s top-grossing movie to date, while all four of those films appear on the top 15 list of the highest opening-week earners of 2008.
“The Dark Knight” is expected to challenge for the top mark on both lists, which is music to the ears of Hollywood executives, according to Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media by Numbers LLC.
“I think Hollywood … is really on a roll,” he said. “I think the movies this summer, as a whole, the audiences are very satisfied.”
After several years of steady decline, box office receipts have increased slightly the past two years compared to the year before (ticket sales, however, actually decreased 0.91 percent in 2007 compared to 2006). A runnig tally compiled by Media by Numbers shows the running summer box office gross ($2.44 billion) to be donw 1.97 percent from the same point in 2007 (attendance is off 4.74 percent), but “Dark Knight” should play a big part in turning that negative into a positive.
“Dark Knight” has been preceded by a nearly unprecedented level of hype (read more about the buildup here). When it’s all said and done, Christopher Nolan’s incarnation of the Batman franchise could rival the “Spider-Man” series for all-time supremacy.
What it proves once again is that audiences love (most) heroes – even ones they might not have heard of before.
” ‘Iron Man’ is great in its own way, but it’s totally different,” said Dergarabedian, who cited the variety of the differing stories behind each of the five superhero films this summer as a reason why so many people have gone to each of them. “It’s emblematic of how good the season has been so far that all these superhero movies have all done well at the box office.”
Indeed, I couldn’t tell you where to buy a “Hellboy” comic book, but I saw “Hellboy II” last weekend and enjoyed it a great deal. That’s the key to a good superhero movie – don’t make non-comic fans feel like outsiders by including too much insider material. That’s one of the main reason the “Spider-Man” and “X-Men” franchises have done well, because you feel a part of the story right from the beginning instead of having to catch up when you hit the Internet at home.
I am going to see “Dark Knight” tonight, and I can’t wait, as “Batman Begins” was perhaps my favorite of all the “Batman” film franchise. Look back Friday for my thoughts on the blockbuster.