If you’re a real fan of popular culture, there’s only one thing on your mind this week (and it ain’t Brangelina’s twins). It’s Batman. Batman! BATMAN! THE DARK KNIGHT COMES OUT THIS WEEKEND!
Excuse me, got a little carried away. But it seems I’m not the only one. Thursday’s midnight screenings of The Dark Knight have already sold out for our local IMAX theaters in White Plains and New Rochelle — and West Nyack and New York City, and, I assume, everywhere there is an IMAX screen. The IMAX theater at the Palisades Mall has decided to run The Dark Knight for 72-hours straight, adding 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. showings. Even non-IMAX theaters — even arthouse non-IMAX theaters — are succumbing to Batmania. The Pelham Picture House, known for its erudite film discussions with critic Peter Travers, is also holding a midnight screening.
There’s no doubt that the fans are all riled up. “Yeah, a lot of the guys already have tickets to the midnight show — the young guys who have more energy than me,” says Steve Oto, owner of Alternate Reality comic shop in Scarsdale. “There have been a lot of comic book movies this summer. Hellboy just opened, and there was Wanted, Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk. But I’d say everyone’s the most excited for The Dark Knight.”
It’s hard to quantify what makes The Dark Knight seem so incredibly awesome, but it’s fun to guess. “I think it’s because the first one did so well,” says Oto. “And a lot of people are excited about Heath Ledger. I know someone who saw the movie already and he says he’s just fantastic.” Personally, I’d add that there are so many film adaptations — from Victorian literature to Harry Potter — that miss the mark ever so slightly that it’s exponentially exciting when something turns out exactly right. Batman Begins was exactly right, and it sets a high standard.
Obviously, I have big expectations. But there is a limit to how far Batmania can go. The store owners I spoke with say that excitement over the movie hasn’t translated into sales of more Batman titles. “The Batman comics have always been a consistent seller,” says Joel Rosenberg, owner of The Phoenix Comics in Scarsdale. “People are interested in it right now not because of the movie, but because there’s a very good storyline right now.”
“There may be bit more interest from people who aren’t fans, but it’s really a slight increase,” says Oto.
Okay, let’s say you’re one of those people who haven’t succumbed to Batman’s justice-obsessed charms. (What’s wrong with you?) Since you’re going to run into a million people this week with nothing but bat brains, here are a few talking points you can use to get you through a conversation without sounding so out-of-the-loop:
*It doesn’t matter that they filmed the movie in Chicago. Everybody knows Gotham is really New York. (And the X-Men are even better because they live in Westchester!)
*It’s interesting that lots of pop bands have songs about Superman, but there hasn’t been a definitive Batman song yet — Prince doesn’t count. (Unless you count Danny Elfman’s awesome theme.)
*Maggie Gyllenhaal taking over Katie Holmes’s role? Upgrade.
*Heath Ledger or Wall-E: Who do you think is getting more premature Oscar buzz?
If you’re not a fan, feel free to steal those at will. (You’re welcome.) If you are a fan, I’ll see you at the multiplex at midnight. (And, oh my God, how excited are you?)