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July 28 2008

The Dark Knight Hits $314 Million, Still Not Profitable

The Dark Knight passed $300 million in ten days, setting a new record for the fastest ever to that mark.  The previous record holder was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest doing it in 16 days.  However, this still does not knock the film into the realm of profitability.

Now, as much as I would like to think M’s and my review of the film on Scattercast last week contributed to the $75 million dollar weekend, I shall act like it didn’t.  In all honesty, it’s a fantastic movie with a stellar performance by several of the actors, not just Heath Ledger, but it unfortunately still does not mean this movie has made a profit.

As I discussed in the first episode of Scattercast (I swear I am not link mining my podcast, just the first two episodes do relate to this!), a movie must make double its budget in domestic box office receipts to be considered profitable.  The Dark Knight had a reported budget of $180 million, meaning that the film needs to do $360 million domestic to be in the black.  This is also discounting marketing budgets, which I easily put around $20 – $25 million, but those numbers are never confirmed.  Analysts are saying they expect the film to hit $400 million on day 18, which would be a new record, beating out the previous “fastest to $400 million” holder, Shrek 2.

There are some who think this film may have the chance of finally knocking Titanic out of the number 1 spot in domestic box office, but $600,788,188 is still a long ways away.  That movie had the benefit of repeat viewings by teenage girls for a very long time and it was an extremely slow build to that level.  That record has held for 10 years now, and it seems unlikely that a movie about a guy in a silly looking bat costume will be the one to do it.

I just find it amazing that anyone is willing to gamble $180 million on any project.  How does anyone sit in an office and go, “You know, I believe in your vision for this project, here, have the equivalent of the gross domestic product of a small nation to go make it.”  Especially in the case of this film, people will always wonder if Ledger’s untimely death contributed to this box office success, and if that is a factor, it makes the executives look even crazier.  Perhaps the secret behing the Joker, he’s actually a film studio executive who decides to gives hundreds of millions of dollars to movies.

Talk about your ultimate gamblers.  Yeesh.



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  • I JUST pushed a blog post collecting all the records The Dark Knight has been breaking during its time in theaters. I was waiting to see if all my predictions were right concerning this film being the one to finally take down Titanic.

    You are right though in the fact that anybody in a position to gamble on the success of any multi-million dollar film is almost as insane as the Joker. Sure there have been abysmal crashes with movies like Waterworld, but yet, multi-million dollar projects start up every week it seems :). There just aren’t ENOUGH bad gambles it seems haha.

  • M

    hell, even i’m going to see it a second time … and i barely ever go to any movie theater outside indie circuit ones.

  • M – “Oh look at me, I’m all edgy and trendy, I go to indie movie theaters”… yeah, I had nothing on this one, but I hadn’t snipped at you lately :P

  • NunoXEI – I almost went with the Waterworld comparison, but decided it was played out :P

  • I agree that The Dark Knigh was great with amazing performances from all the stars, but especially The Joker, I mean Heath.

    It’ll be tough to knock off the Titanic but apparently this film is getting lots of repeat visitors too. It’s also been a while since a really good blockbuster movie came out, and personally I’m going to see it in IMAX and think a lot of other people who saw it in a regular theater will too. It might not break the Titanic record but it’s going to be very, very profitable when all is said and done.

  • I am waiting for the bubble to burst on super hero movies though I suspect it will be one or two years away. All it takes is for one $180 million dollar budgeted movie to tank and take the profits away from a studio….