This summer, like every summer, has had its share of comic-book movies. As far as a crop of superheroes go, it’s done pretty well. Everyone seemed pretty pleased with The Avengers, and even The Amazing Spider-Man seemed well-liked for a reboot of a franchise that just turned ten years old. Still, nothing compares to the frenzied, nail-biting anticipation that surrounds The Dark Knight Rises.
How can we tell? Screenings are taking place deep into the night. Sure, lots of movies get the midnight-movie treatment, where breathless fans can get their fixes at the stroke of 12:01 on the day their features come out. But only certain movies get theaters to program another screening after that one. Currently, wee-hours screenings of The Dark Knight are on sale everywhere from the IMAX theater in the Palisades Mall in Nyack (3:33 a.m.) all the way up through The Regal Crossgates Stadium 18 in Albany and the Regal Clifton Park in Saratoga County (3:30 a.m. for both). With a two-hour, forty-five minute running time, plus commercials and trailers, I bet those showings will get out between 6:30 and 7 a.m. That’s hardcore dedication — dedication that Spider-Man didn’t manage to dredge up.
A couple of those early-early-morning showings are on IMAX screens. Usually, when a big movie comes out, we have to evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether it’s worth the inflated ticket price (see why I thought The Avengers wasn’t IMAX-worthy). In this instance, I’m confident that the IMAX will be worth it — and not just for the spectacle of seeing one of the most buzzed-about movies of the year as large as possible. Christopher Nolan actually makes use of the towering screen, shooting, according to the New York Times, 72 minutes of the movie with IMAX cameras, so the image will really take up the whole screen. The Times article outlines other advantages to seeing the film in IMAX, such as better picture resolution. (The caveat, as always, is to make sure you go to the real IMAX theaters.)
Aside from around-the-clock showings on the biggest screens in the area, how else can you tell that Batman is asserting his all-powerful pop-cultural dominance? The fact that no other movies seem to be challenging it. Have you noticed that, since The Amazing Spider-Man, movies have seemed to cool off? This weekend there was Ice Age: Continental Drift — a movie with an audience that doesn’t really overlap with Batman’s anyway — and a bunch of teeny, tiny indie movies. No studio wants Batman to cut their movies off at the knees, so they’re staying away. As The L Magazine writes, “June had around 50 new releases and August has about 40… while July has a comparably paltry 25.” Basically, if you’re not a Batman fan, you might want to dig into your Netflix queue.
The rest of us? We’ll be doing the Batdance.