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WHAT THAT HASSLE-FRASSLE-R NOAM CHOMSKY HAS TO DO WITH THE DARK KNIGHT
Settle in cause this is a rambling prologue. I grew in Portland, Oregon (as some of you may know) and as such we only had one sports team of any worth: The Portland Trailblazers. As I was rounding through middle school, we had Clyde Drexler, Kevin Duckworth, Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson and Jerome Kersey (as important to me as Cliff Caballero, Lance Mountain, Mike McGill, Tommy Guerrero, and Tony Hawk). Though the movie bug had bit me good and proper, we had a winning team for once, and I went with my father to Seattle to see a play-off game during the year they became Western Conference Champions. They lost to the Pistons that year. The next they had their best season ever (63-19), and didn’t even get out of the Western Conference bracket. Sometimes I wonder if I would still be a Trailblazers fan if they had taken it all the way, but eventually I was more interested in watching the Criterion laserdisc of The Killer than watching a game.
Noam Chomsky once badmouthed sports for creating false senses of patriotism, and I agree with the larger point more than the smaller one. Or that is to say (in the words of the poet): People are people, so why should it be that you and I get along so awfully. I don’t understand how one can claim superiority over a different state, country or nation, simply because of imaginary borders. And if you experience the world you realize that most locations, people, groups, aesthetic criteria, anything have their pluses and minuses. With sports, I understand having a rooting interest in a certain team or players, partly based on location. It helps personalize the game. What I don’t believe in is Sixth Man syndrome. As most star athletes prove on a daily basis, they do not give a shit about their fanbase, except in an almost tangential level. You would need a game changer, a Barack Obama (if you will) of the sports world to convince me that an football player was actually playing for the fans. (side note: I do believe in the sixth man syndrome at a concert. Bands react to the energy of the audience – as do actors – so I believe if you’re at a show, and you’re near the band, you better rock as hard as you can.).
Which is my roundabout way of questioning why so many fans on the internet have their man-panties (manties, if you will) in a mansoup over the god damned opening weekend gross of The Dark Knight.
Here’s the thing, ah, here’s the thing, guys, girls… The geeks have won. The war is over. Yeah, Superman didn’t do so hot, but X-Men, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man (fuckin’ Iron Man) have proved to be huge, huge successes. Franchise pictures. Summer tentpoles. The studios know this. They even made a sequel to that god awful Punisher movie. San Diego Comic-Con has been ruined, taken over by Hollywood, hoping to whip fanboys into a soapy lather over the latest trailer, footage, poster, etc. But somehow The Dark Knight is this perfect storm film for this base, and they’ve been buzzing for a long time.
I would love to suggest this is because Christopher Nolan is a world-class director, and the nerds of the world share the same enthusiasm for the man that Mike D’Angelo does, or love Memento and The Prestige as I do. But I have to suggest that it’s because the material is dark, and that Batman appeals to a certain kind of fan. The fan who can overlook Batman’s moral loophole at the end of Batman Begins, the person who doesn’t understand how what Batman is saying is a betrayal of what he stands for. But not only has The Dark Knight been declared a masterpiece sight-unseen, but now it must also decimate the box office.
I like doing this column, I really do, because it’s fun and I get to make jokes and talk about the real guts of things, but it’s pictures like this where people really get a gleam in their eye over how something does that is troublesome. I’ve always said that box office has nothing to do with quality, but it really doesn’ have anything to do with anythingt, and this sort of validation only ruins the sense of exclusivity. Does the guy who declares this a masterpiece sight-unseen really want the girl he secretly named his toss-off sock after to love the film as he does? Maybe. But the success of the film’s marketing is partly due to curiosity created by the death of one of its leads. And despite the fact that the film is really, really good, the hyperbole is unfortunate. But hyperbole is always unfortunate, and comes about because people can’t articulate how they think or feel. And so film fans must weather the storm of these people who are buzzing like fridges about the film.
You know what, I think it’ll do all right. There you go.
YOU MAKE ME SO CONFUSED, THE BEAUTIFUL PREDICTIONS, YOU ALWAYS SEEM TO LOSE
Mama Mia is also opening this weekend and should get to third base in terms of success, and will serve as well played counter-programing, especially if families split up and some go to one or the other. Space Chimps, well, the issue here isn’t pussy, it’s monkey. And that Monkey ain’t gonna fly. That monkey’s going to heaven. (Buy my new book “From The Right Stuff to the Pixies in six words or less”). Sadly, Hancock will likely jump Hellboy this weekend, which opened, but there’s too many superheroes on this plate, and that film is likely not going to have the automatic good WOM of a Hancock.
As for The Dark Knight… sigh. The picture should do over $100. But I’m really too annoyed to pin it down. It could go as low as $115, and as high as $160 (BREAKING EVERY RECORD EVER) and it’s selling out at a lot of locations… or so they would have you believe (really, it is, it’s just, a lot of those locations, like the Imax screens, are going to be like that).
So let’s do this:
1. The Dark Knight - One Dollar.
2. Mamma Mia – $29 Million
3 Handcock - $15 Million
4. Hellboy II - $14.8 Million
5. Journey: The Motion Picutre - $10.6 Million
And then Sunday I’ll break it down like a clown with a frown, in town wearing a gown.