published Saturday, July 14th, 2012

As Dark Knight rises, so do ticket sales, Chattanooga area theater managers say

From left, "The Dark Knight Rises" cast members Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman pose during a hand and footprint ceremony for the film's director Christopher Nolan at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on July 7 in Los Angeles.
From left, "The Dark Knight Rises" cast members Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman pose during a hand and footprint ceremony for the film's director Christopher Nolan at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on July 7 in Los Angeles.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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DARK KNIGHT PRICES

Majestic 12 Cinema: $12 adults, $15 for Big D Auditorium

Carmike Battlefield 10: $9.50 adults

Rave Cinema: $9.50 adults, $12.50 Imax

Chattanooga residents are ready to take a trip to Gotham City — again.

A week out, three local theaters already have sold 534 tickets for the midnight premiere of the newest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," and managers expect ticket sales to skyrocket as opening night approaches on Friday.

"This is going to be one of those big ones for the summer that we have been preparing for," said Paige Walker, assistant manager at Carmike Battlefield 10 in Fort Oglethorpe.

While her theater has sold only 56 tickets so far, Walker expects sales to pick up this week. She's planning to open up all 10 theaters — 1,536 seats — for the midnight premiere.

"More toward the end of the week, it will start selling like crazy," she said.

"The Dark Knight Rises" is the third Batman movie directed by Christopher Nolan and is considered the conclusion of his trilogy. Nolan also directed "Batman Begins," released in 2005, and "The Dark Knight," released in 2008. Combined, those two movies have earned more than $1.3 billion worldwide.

Industry watchers expect "The Dark Knight Rises" to hit similar figures. There already is talk of the movie earning an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

Tyler Smith, assistant store manager at B&M Amusement, a comic book shop, said he doesn't expect a big boost in Batman sales with the release of "Dark Knight Rises," mainly because Batman is already his bestseller.

"About a year ago, they put a new writer/artist combination on the book that was great, so a lot of people have been really excited," he said. "It's gone from being a bestseller to the bestseller."

The release of "Batman Begins" increased the comic book's popularity in the shop, but that popularity has waned in recent years, he said.

"Back when 'Batman Begins' came out, it made them more popular, but we didn't really get a boost after 'Dark Knight,'" he said. "We might get a mediocre boost after 'Dark Knight Rises' comes out."

But he is excited about the new movie and plans to head to the theater with his wife to see it.

"It looks good," he said. "It looks like they are going to combine some of the older Batman stories from the past and mix and match a little bit."

Gary Tremble, assistant manager at Rave Cinema in East Ridge, said the entire building sold out for the premiere last year of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II," the last in the film series.

"We have 18 theaters and all 18 theaters were filled," he said. "We're expecting [Dark Knight Rises] to be like that."

Rave Cinema seats 3,274 people when all 18 theaters are sold out, and the theater has sold 270 Imax tickets and 123 regular tickets to the film so far, Tremble said. He is making plans for the midnight premiere based on the crowds he saw when "The Dark Knight" premiered four years ago.

"'The Dark Knight' was the busiest movie we ever had here, and it stayed really busy for a month," he said. "I don't doubt that this will be another one of those movies."

At Battlefield 10, Walker is expecting to see "people come in costumes" for some of the showings, especially the midnight premiere. But she expects the crowds to continue even after the opening night rush.

"I think we're going to be really steady for the next three weeks, maybe longer," she said. "For 'The Avengers,' we were busy for about a month and a half. It did really well, so we are basing off that movie."

"The Avengers," another superhero movie released this summer, has earned $1.4 billion worldwide.

Tremble agreed with Walker's assessment of a steady stream of business for "Dark Knight Rises" over opening weekend.

"Friday, opening night, that will be big," he said. "But it only gets busier on Saturdays because everyone is normally off work. So the whole day will be selling out, probably. And Sunday is still busy, too."

Evan Stewart, assistant manager at Majestic 12 theater in downtown Chattanooga, said he is prepared to open all 12 theaters for opening night.

"It should be a pretty big crowd," he said. "People like Batman a lot."

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about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury joined the Times Free Press as a business reporter in January 2013, after starting with the paper as a general assignment intern in July 2012. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint Hill Times. Outside the newsroom, Shelly enjoys ...

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