Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekend box office comments - 7/20/08 - Dark Knight

Word on the street is that Dark Knight is set to make a whopping $155 million this weekend, breaking the current record of opening weekend box office sales held by Spider-Man 3 by about $4 million. Dark Knight did have the advantage of hugely favorable reviews and great buzz surrounding the masterful performance of Heath Ledger, but Spider-Man 3 had what seemed to be the more important advantage of a lighter tone (though both are PG-13, Spidey seems more kid-friendly) and two box office uber-champion prequels, as opposed to Dark Knight's one merely hugely successful prequel. Dark Knight had the advantage of debuting in the middle of the summer, when kids aren't worrying about going to school on Monday, but Spidey's early May opening was considered a greater advantage, as the summer kickoff would see little competition and fresh, non-superhero wearied audiences. Just before the weekend the analysts were predicting Dark Knight would come in behind Spidey 3. But it looks like they were wrong (not such a huge surprise). I am very pleased by this result, because Spider-Man 3 was kind of lame. A deserved triumph.

> Update, Monday 7/21/08 3 pm: The official final tally for Batman's opening weekend is an even more impressive $158.3 million. Wow!

One time in college, I had a good-natured Batman vs. Spider-Man argument with a friend. He was on the side of Spider-Man; I was on the side of Batman. His argument included a statement to the effect of "Spider-Man is better because it is an underdog story--Batman isn't at all." At the time, I conceded this, merely pointing out that Bruce Wayne didn't exactly have a peaches and cream childhood either, but we were soon distracted by other things going on at the time. But not long after that, I thought of the following rejoinder, though I never had a chance to bring up the argument again. And I guess that fact still bothers me to this day, since here I am about to present it in my blog:

Yes, Spider-Man is the underdog story, because Peter Parker grew up a poor orphan, makes his living selling pictures of himself to a newspaper, but has acquired this amazing power that he uses to fight crime. Bruce Wayne, on the other hand, while growing up an orphan as well, has always had more money than he could ever use and people fawning over him because of it. But here's the thing: Peter Parker was given superhuman powers when that spider bit him. And, as Uncle Ben said, with great power comes great responsibility. With his great power, he has a responsibility to use it to help humanity. Frankly, if I suddenly had a remarkable power that made me perfectly suited to fight crime, I would give it a go. I really think I would, for better or for worse. But look at Bruce Wayne. No spider bit him. He has no powers. He made himself a crime-fighter. If I were in his position, I would maybe feel the need to donate money to good causes and do assorted charity work, but I definitely would not try to fight crime, because I wouldn't see myself as equipped to do so. And in that sense, lacking any superpowers, Batman is the underdog, not the super-agile, web-slinging, spider-sensing Spider-Man.

Anyway, with Dark Knight's triumph over Spider-Man 3--at the box office (read: the general public) as well as with critics--I feel vindicated in regards to this argument with my friend so many years ago over whether the Spider-Man or Batman movies were better. Given the most recent installments... I win.

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