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THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Midnight Box Office: $25m+?

The Dark Knight Rises box office BatmanThe Dark Knight Rises midnight box office: 25m+? The third and final installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman movie franchise, The Dark Knight Rises, will likely earn more than $25 million at Thursday midnight screenings in North America. That would place Nolan's film among the biggest midnight debuts ever.

The source for the above information is The Hollywood Reporter, which adds that The Dark Knight Rises opened one minute after midnight at more than 3,700 locations. Beginning Friday morning, TDKR will be screening at 4,404 theaters, second only to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse's 4,468 locations in summer 2010.

Addendum: As per more specific – but still early and subject to change – reported estimates, TDKR grossed between $27m-$28 million at midnight screenings. If those estimates are accurate, TDKR will land in fourth place (not adjusted for inflation) for midnight shows, sandwiched between two Twilight movies. See below.

Midnight box office champ: Harry Potter

The current midnight record-holder in North America is David Yates' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which collected (a 3D-boosted) $43.5 million in summer 2011. The fantasy adventure stars Daniel Radcliffe, Ralph Fiennes, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

The next three movies in line all belong to the Twilight Saga franchise starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner. They are: Bill Condon's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 with $30.3 million, David Slade's The Twilight Saga: Eclipse with $30.1 million, and Chris Weitz's The Twilight Saga: New Moon with $26.3 million.

The Dark Knight opened with $18.1 million in summer 2008. This past spring, Joss Whedon's all-star superhero ensemble The Avengers debuted with (a 3D-boosted) $18.7m.

The Denver TDKR massacre – 14 people killed and dozens left injured after a masked man started shooting inside a packed movie theater showing The Dark Knight Rises – will quite possibly affect box office receipts this weekend.

Before we're accused of being insensitive for mentioning the above, that's hardly the case. I'm reporting facts – as it's my job as a movie writer who frequently discusses box office grosses. That doesn't mean I've taken pleasure in writing this post after my previous one (about the massacre) or that either I or Alt Film Guide's editor belives box office receipts are of the utmost importance to humankind.

The Dark Knight Rises recent controversies

Curiously, in recent days The Dark Knight Rises became embroiled in several bizarre controversies that were none of the filmmakers' doing. As a result of vicious comments from rabid TDKR fans (and possibly online trolls), Rotten Tomatoes suspended user comments for the first time ever on their The Dark Knight Rises page. Additionally, right-wing talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh came up with the idea that the terrorist Bane was a disguised attack on U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose controversial (former) investment company is called Bain Capital. DC Comics' Bane co-creator Chuck Dixon dismissed Limbaugh's remarks, coming up instead with the equally asinine concept that if The Dark Knight Rises had a Mitt Romney, that would be Bruce Wayne.

Anyhow, expect Warner Bros. – and possibly Christopher Nolan himself – to issue a statement about the mass murders in the next few hours. According to TF1, the Parisian premiere of the film (not just the red carpet, as previously reported) has been canceled. Nolan, and stars Marion Cotillard, Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were supposed to be in attendance. The studio has also canceled all cast interviews with the French media.

"Midnight Box Office: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES" picture: Warner Bros.

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