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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