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Columbus theaters, stores prepare for the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

“The Dark Knight Rises,” the highly anticipated third and final installment in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, is due to hit theaters Friday, and Columbus is bracing for impact.

Tracking surveys put “Rises” on track to gross similar opening weekend numbers as “The Avengers,” according to The Los Angeles Times. “The Avengers” made $207.4 million in its opening weekend, smashing the previous record set by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” last year.

At Gateway Film Center, “Rises” will be screened on all seven screens at midnight Thursday. 

As of Monday, several screens have already sold out but tickets are still available, though the theater expects all to sell out, said Meghan Vesper, sales and marketing manager at Gateway Film Center.

The theater will host a mini-marathon of sorts before that. “The Dark Knight Trilogy” is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with 2005’s “Batman Begins,” followed by 2008’s “The Dark Knight,” before “Rises” at 12:01 a.m.

AMC Lennox Town Center 24 is one of 76 theaters nationwide screening the two other films in the trilogy before the 12:01 a.m. screenings as well. It also begins at 6 p.m.

Two midnight screenings have sold out as of Monday and the theater will continue adding screenings to keep with ticket sales. The theater expects to screen the film on all 24 of its screens at midnight Thursday.

“Rises” is on track to challenge “The Avengers'” opening weekend record, even without the bump from the surcharge in 3-D ticket sales, as Nolan decided neither to shoot nor release the film in 3-D.

With theater chains rushing to keep up with demand this upcoming weekend, things might be a little quieter at Laughing Ogre Comics, located at 4258 N. High St.

Store manager Jeff Stang said he hasn’t seen a “hugely significant” bump in Batman interest, though he said new graphic novel “Batman: Earth One,” which re-imagines Batman’s origins, could see a spike in sales because it’s “an easy jumping-on point for people.”

For fans looking for the source material that might have inspired “Rises,” Stang said to check out “Knightfall,” “No Man’s Land” and “The Dark Knight Returns.”

Those comics are examples of why Stang said he likes Nolan’s take on Batman. He identified “The Dark Knight” as “probably one of the best superhero movies ever made.”

“(Nolan has) done a great job of taking those characters and rooting them in reality and real-world fears of terrorism and the economy,” Stang said.

The Caped Crusader is arguably the most popular cinematic superhero of them all, despite the increasing number of comic book properties appearing on the silver screen, Stang said. He attributed that to how relatable Batman is.

“He’s a human,” Stang said. “He’s just a normal guy who obviously has a pretty big bank account but he’s still just a man going up against incredible odds.”

And don’t anticipate superheroes going away any time soon, either, especially with “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight” raking in north of $1 billion in worldwide box office each, and others, such as the “Iron Man” and “Spider-Man” franchises, doing well, too.

“Future superhero films certainly have the potential to continue doing well,” Vesper said. “These are the kinds of movies patrons must see in a theater on the big screen in order to truly experience the grand scale of the stories.”

Stang said superhero films will stick around because people are so familiar with them.

“They’re using source material that everybody’s familiar with,” Stang said. “You can ask anybody off the street about Batman, Superman, Spider-Man’s origins and they can tell you. I think it’s stuff people, no matter what age, can still relate to.”

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