How ‘The Dark Knight’ beat ‘Titanic’…and scored big at the Oscars

Posted by · 7:32 pm · September 10th, 2008

Warner Bros. Pictures' The Dark KnightI’ve been beating a loud drum around these parts for some time.  Backed with inarguable examples set by the Academy in the past and the knowledge that Warner Bros. isn’t one of the Oscar-grubbing studios in this town, I’ve maintained that Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” would disappoint the hordes in January when it fails to nab the big nods so many are expecting in the wake of boffo box office and critical success.

Just yesterday I had a conversation with a publicist involved in some manner.  “So, what do you think of a major Oscar push for ‘The Dark Knight,'” I asked.  “What do you think,” she responded playfully, not offering much to go on.

Well, here is what Warner Bros. thinks about it, and a clear show of awards-hungry support is all I really needed to jump on board here.

Does a calculated move like this guarantee placement in major categories for the film?  Absolutely not.  But it does prove that the studio — which certainly doesn’t need the extra revenue that awards success would bring — is willing to play ball in order to ensure more than simple monetary milestones.

Speaking of which, re-releasing the film into IMAX theaters for an exclusive run in January — “See it again, for the first time!” — could provide the right boost to push the film into truly historic territory.  About 80 million more bucks and this film surpasses “Titanic” after a decade of domestic box office reign from the James Cameron power romance.

Here is Carl DiOrio’s mouth-watering lede:

Batman wants an Oscar.

To be precise, Warner Bros. wants a statuette — or 10 — for “The Dark Knight.” So the studio plans to re-release its blockbuster Batman sequel in January, the height of Academy Awards voting season.

“It’s just a matter of bringing it back as a reminder for people,” a studio insider explained.

Read the rest at Reuters.  And more on the chart updates next week.

→ 34 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

34 responses so far

  • 1 9-10-2008 at 7:39 pm

    Chad said...

    It will not outgross Titanic.

  • 2 9-10-2008 at 7:45 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I think it will eventually, because I don’t think this re-release will be the last time we see “The Dark Knight” in theaters.

  • 3 9-10-2008 at 8:15 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I seriously, SERIOUSLY doubt there won’t be at least 7 films to top this one during the fall and winter seasons. Sorry… it’s totally going to get buried in the crowd. Hell, it feels like it has already – what with all this buzz surrounding hotly anticipated winter releases.

  • 4 9-10-2008 at 8:26 pm

    The Z said...

    With a re-release now (and another one possible before the expectant third film) “The Dark Knight” will be “Titanic’s” proverbial iceberg.

    As for the Oscar race… no one knows anything, yet we all talk like we do. It is very possible “The Dark Knight” will get 10+ nominations. It’s very possible it’ll get nada. If the re-release is handled correctly (that is, the right people see it at the right time), it’ll get recognized by the Academy. Probably not everywhere some would hope, but probably enough to make most fans happy.

    Of course, what do I know?

  • 5 9-10-2008 at 8:38 pm

    N8 said...

    I can see 5 or 6 noms max. But best director and picture? I don’t know. I think many voters may take the obscene box office totals as a sign that the film isn’t Academy material.

    But I’m glad WB is dedicated to making a push nonetheless. Any noms the movie does get will be very much deserved.

  • 6 9-10-2008 at 9:05 pm

    Chad said...

    Why would it ever have another re-release besides for the Oscars? It doesn’t happen anymore.

  • 7 9-10-2008 at 9:09 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    It would totally be an IMAX thing, I’m sure. “Come see the highest grossing IMAX film of all time.” Etc. “The Polar Express” gets a re-release still…or at least it was for a while.

  • 8 9-10-2008 at 10:10 pm

    Brian Kinsley said...

    With Venice, Toronto, and general fall buzz, Dark Knight has slipped substantially. Beating Titanic would be the only thing that could really save it’s chances at this point, I think (save some guild/globe love-Dark Knight has a fantastic chance at winning the PGA after all).

  • 9 9-10-2008 at 10:25 pm

    Mr. Gittes said...

    What do you mean “general fall buzz” has hindered TDK’s chances? Save for Slumdog Millionaire (which I could see becoming a media darling a la Juno), there hasn’t been anything substantial, movie-wise of course, that’s caused Knight to fall from Oscar’s graces.

    Right now, Benjamin Button – fair or not – has slipped a little, no one’s seen Revolutionary Road nor Milk nor The Soloist so nothing there so far that’s deterred TDK from “getting in.” I think you’re wrong. Brian. TDK doesn’t need to beat Titanic; it’s resume is pretty impressive mostly because it can been seen, and people like what they’ve seen.

    Yes, TDK needs guild/globe support…I think.

  • 10 9-10-2008 at 10:35 pm

    Marvin said...

    Gag me now. I still don’t (wanna?) see The Dark Knight as a BP nominee.

  • 11 9-10-2008 at 10:38 pm

    The Z said...

    I think the only “general fall buzz” that’s actually buzzing is all for “The Wrestler.” And most of that buzz is for Rourke, so at first glance it would only hinder Bale’s chances at a lead nomination – not that most people are thinking that would happen.

  • 12 9-10-2008 at 10:51 pm

    Zac said...

    Right now, the only 2 nominations I think The Dark Knight is assured of is:

    Best Supporting Actor Heath Ledger
    Best Cinematography for Wally Pfister.

    After that, it’ll come down to what happens over the next 3 1/2 months.

  • 13 9-11-2008 at 1:55 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    It sure is bold for a studio to come out and say what they want in those words. It shows some balls and also major confidence. But they’re after Titanic’s #1 spot too, and I think that is far more within reach than so much Oscars. But, if it gets nominated for like, a whole bunch, it might even win too because of all the buzz going to surround it then.

  • 14 9-11-2008 at 6:59 am

    AJ said...

    Don’t forget the inevitability of Star Wars 3D which will become the highest grossing film-again. Although I do hope the WB keeps The Dark Knight in theaters this entire time, so it won’t be seen as a rerelease during awards season, just a re-expansion. That also will keep its record unblemished, unlike the many rereleases of Star Wars and Gone With the Wind. The highest grossing movie of all time, adjusted for inflation, in my honest opinion is The Sound of Music.

  • 15 9-12-2008 at 5:02 am

    Fei said...

    It only took that much to change your mind, Kris? Huh.

  • 16 9-12-2008 at 3:57 pm

    KB said...

    Fans of “The Dark Knight” can wish and hope all they want, but it will not outgross “Titanic” worldwide, or match its 11 Oscars.

  • 17 9-12-2008 at 4:05 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Fei: Yeah. It means a lot. A lot of people seem to think money is all it takes, but no, it takes a studio willing to pimp a film and its stars (which, believe it or not, WB has already begun to do for TDK) and a concentrated campaign to get Oscars.

    Nominations don’t happen in a vacuum. So yeah, what might seem like a small thing to you is, in actuality, the biggest boost the film could have secured.

    KB: No one said either would happen. But we all know which is the better film.

  • 18 9-14-2008 at 1:31 pm

    JAB said...

    are we gonna see dark knight show big in your next set of predictions? Best Picture Big, i mean?

  • 19 12-08-2008 at 7:09 pm

    James said...

    Yeah, I know which is the better film, and it’ s not “The Dark Knight.”

  • 20 12-08-2008 at 9:39 pm

    Jeff Cash said...

    James…are you serious? Where in that sentimental hodgepodge of saccharine nonsense do you see anything that can match Heath’s performance? Perhaps it is that moment when Leo shouts, “I’m King of the World.” Utterly profound, I know.

    P.S. Let me just say that I am really looking forward to that day when The Dark Knight kicks this film’s ass. Seriously.

  • 21 12-10-2008 at 8:25 pm

    James said...

    Oh yes, I’m quite serious. Ledger’s performance was great, but nothing can convince me that “The Dark Knight” is the better of these two films. You call “Titanic” nonsense, but I point out that it made grown men cry, became the highest-grossing film of all time (not just in the America but worldwide), and won 11 Oscars for a reason, and it certainly was not due to nonsense (or simply teenage girls seeing it over and over again). Only a few films have blown me away, such as the first two “Terminator” films and the film “The Sixth Sense,” but “The Dark Knight” did not. It was/is a good film, but I feel that it is highly overrated and would not have grossed this much if not for Ledger’s tragic/much publicized death. “Titanic” blew me away, mainly because of the special effects (which were very impressive at that time) and James Cameron’s ability to actually make me care about a love story. I’m definitely not afraid to admit or say that I wish more films were as “magical” as “Titanic.” I will say that good films like “Titanic” and “The Dark Knight” certainly do not come around that often anymore.

    P.S. Even if “The Dark Knight” beats “Titanic” in America in regards to domestis gross, we all know that it will never beat “Titanic’s” worldwide gross.

  • 22 12-10-2008 at 8:40 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    James, I’m definitely with Jeff on this one. First off, the reason Titanic made so much money is because it was the absolute perfect date movie. Once you take every couple that went to see it, add in all of the single people who had to see it to know what everyone else was talking about, and then add the people who went to see it a second and third time, then its surprising that it didn’t make more money.

    And as far as the Oscars go, I thought that everyone understood that you can’t compare movies based on how the Oscars go. After all, we all sure agree that Ordinary People is better than Raging Bull.

    Your belief is strictly based on opinion. If you go about saying that films are better simply because they made more money (there are countless examples of great movies making nothing and sorry films making a lot) and because they did better at the Oscars, then your validation is completely wrong.

  • 23 12-10-2008 at 10:33 pm

    Jeremy said...

    No way, Titanic’s position as no. 1 of the domestic box office is insurmountable and international even more so. The Dark Knight in many ways is very similar to Titanic in fanbase, technical marvel, popularity and sheer epic scale. However The Dark Knight is not in the same class as Titanic in terms of Oscar chances, it surely will be nominated but as a nod to its box-office gross and perhaps as a way to boost ratings (the higher grossing films nominated for best picture have always drwan the best ratings, 1997 the year Titanic won remains the telecast with the highest rating) but it is very unlikely. Also in terms of Oscar, there has never been a more awarded film in its history. Yes both Ben Hur and The Lord Of The Rings won 11 oscars but Titanic was nominated for 14 along with All About Eve, so added with nominations and wins Titanic is the most awarded film in oscar history. The Dark Knight might be the best of its genre but Titanic is one of the greatest films of all time.

  • 24 12-11-2008 at 3:19 pm

    James said...

    Scott, I disagree with some of your points. But I definitely agree with Jeremy. “Titanic” did not make so much money because it was/is the absolute perfect date movie. Plenty of movies have been the perfect date movie, but have not made as much money as “Titanic.” Plenty movies have had gorgeous people in them but have not made as much money as “Titanic.” I mean, a lot of women would say that Brad Pitt is better-looking than Leonardo DiCaprio. And yet none of Brad Pitt’s movies have made 1 billion dollars, or close to that. As for Oscar talk, I was simply stating that “Titanic” won 11 Oscars for a reason. It was not nominated for 14 and won 11 of those 14 due to being a crappy film. I cannot think of any crappy or nonsense film that has been nominated that many times and has won that many Oscars.

    I am quite aware that points in my first post here are completely opinion. I did not say that films are better simply because they make more money, nor was I alluding to that. I was simply giving reasons why “Titanic” is not a nonsense film. Its 14 Oscar nominations and 11 wins are certainly proof of its lack of nonsense. Yes, I personally feel that “Titanic” is the better of these two films, but for various reasons, unrelated to how many Oscars it won. I did not say that “Titanic” has the best acting, only that it is one of the best films I have ever seen. There is a reason that so many people saw this film, and over and over again — people love a good love story — even men — and especially one mixed with awesome special effects like they have never seen before. It was not just teenage girls going to see this movie over and over again. Heterosexual macho teenage guys did as well; I was not one of them, but still… I was in high school at the time this film came out. I just turned 26 in October, and in high school I remember “Titanic” being the movie to see. Girls were mainly talking about Leo and the love story, and guys were mainly talking about the special effects and how they loved seeing people fall off the ship. Even teachers (both men and women) were talking about tis film nearly every day. My point? James Cameron did a hell of a job creating an epic film that intrigued both sexes thoroughly. “The Dark Knight” has done kind of the same, but not like the fascination I saw people have with “Titanic.”

  • 25 12-11-2008 at 3:52 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    James, I liked Titanic and thought it was a very moving film. But I would hope that you would agree that there are definitely better films that have made far less at the box office. I didn’t say it was the only great date movie, I said that it was the quintessential date movie. Not being aggressive, but if you can think of a better date movie that appealed to both sexes equally, then I would like to hear your opinion. I bring these points up because it seems to me that you think that the main reason it did so well financially was because it is a great movie. Surely that has something to do with it, but if it had reached that mark on sheer quality it would almost unarguably be considered the best movie ever made, which it is not. It made that much money because of the reasons I provided.

    I never said that the film was crappy, because you’re right, crappy movies don’t win eleven Oscars. But that alone doesn’t mean it is of that high quality because there are many older films that are undeniable classics that did not even win one Oscar. And the reason it will see more success at the Oscars than The Dark Knight is because they are on opposite spectrums in how they were bred for the awards season. Any movie with big production values and actors clearly on the verge of being stars is already in the running for an Oscar the moment they announce it. Whereas a film based on a comic book with costumed heroes and villains has to be nearly perfect, if not perfect, to even be considered for an Oscar.

    Again, basing your arguments over which film did better at the Oscars should never be your main defense.

    Also I never said that it was just teenage girls who loved and talked about Titanic. Rightfully so everyone was talking about it because it was a good film that achieved the rare possibility of appealing to everyone.

    And James, not saying that all good films must be mulled over in the decades after its release, but I can guarantee you that The Dark Knight is going to have many essays, articles, and even books written about it analyzing the psychology of the film and how the it displayed the critiques on society. I don’t think the same will be said about Titanic.

  • 26 12-11-2008 at 4:13 pm

    Jeff Cash said...

    Titanic doesn’t challenge the viewer…
    The Dark Knight does
    Titanic is predictable…
    The Dark Knight…not as much
    Titanic has no powerhouse performance…
    The Dark Knight does
    Titanic is completely forgettable…
    The Dark Knight is incredibly memorable
    Titanic made more money…and got many awards…and….
    Mediocrity has been popular for decades.

  • 27 12-11-2008 at 4:22 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Thanks Jeff. Except I wouldn’t say Titanic is completely forgettable. Other than that spot on.

  • 28 12-11-2008 at 4:42 pm

    James said...

    Scott, I still disagree that “Titanic” made as much money because it is the quintessential date movie. It’s not even a matter of thinking of a better date movie that appealed to both sexes equally. I honestly cannot think of any movie that appealed to both sexes as equally as “Titanic” did. I have given points for why I feelthat this movie did so well, and those reasons are not simply because “it was/is a great movie.” It’s kind of difficult to sum up why “Titanic” did so well as a film; it was due to a combination of things. I named the two main things — the special effects and the love story. But I’m also not sure that if Leonardo DiCaprio had not portrayed Jack Dawson, that it would have done as well. For me, saying that “Titanic” was/is the quintessential date movie and that that’s the main reason why it did so well does not really sum it up for me. I mean, so many people went to that movie with friends or family (or both), or alone. More people probably went as friends than as dates, and so summing up its popularity as ” the quintessential date movie” does not really do it justice.

    I know that you did not say “Titanic” was crappy; the poster I was respnding to before you essentially said that. And I know that many older films that are undeniable classics did not even win one Oscar. I definitely agree with you on why “The Dark Knight” is not as Oscar-inclined. It was even very recently shut out of the Golden Globes, except for Heath Ledger’s performance. And which film does better at the Oscars is never my main defense for why a film is better, nor was it my main defense here; it was simply a defense to “Titanic” being called a nonsense film. I did not say, “Titanic won so many Oscars and that is why it’s a good film” or “That’s why it’s better than ‘The ‘Dark Knight.'” I said, ” You call ‘Titanic’ nonsense, but I point out that it made grown men cry, became the highest-grossing film of all time (not just in the America but worldwide), and won 11 Oscars for a reason, and it certainly was not due to nonsense (or simply teenage girls seeing it over and over again.” And I was responding to the other poster. The “teenage girls” bit was in response to the people who try to downplay or take away from “Titanic’s” success/storytelling by acting as though it mainly grossed 1.8 billion due to teenage girls seeeing it over and over again, or that that (teenage girls) is the only reason the movie was so popular.

    As for your feeling that “The Dark Knight” is going to have many essays, articles, and even books written about it analyzing the psychology of the film and how it displayed the critiques on society, and your feeling that the same will not be done/said in regards to “Titanic.” I must say that “Titanic” has already had essays and articles written about its popularity. It’s one of those things that people cannot quite explain and so I do not see why it would not be a part of a popular culture study in some pysch 101 class; in fact, it probably already has been. Surely, with the effect this film had on society, it would be among the discussions of “critiques on society.”

    But in any case, thanks for the discussion, Scott. If you would like to know of another film in my “top films” list, it’s “Million Dollar Baby. “

  • 29 12-11-2008 at 4:44 pm

    James said...

    And, Jeff Cash, let’s just say I disagree, except for “Titanic” being somewhat predicatble. I mean, who did not know that the ship was going to sink?

  • 30 12-11-2008 at 5:45 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    James, I definitely think that we are beginning to understand each others viewpoints better. You’re right about people seeing with friends and other people besides their significant other. I don’t see the quality of Titanic as lying purely in the “date movie” fashion. I was just saying , and here is what we disagree on, that I believed that that was the main reason it made so much. It certainly was not limited to couples only. I just realized that the majority of people in the world have someone they go on dates with, and it’s known that going to the movies is one of the more popular things to do for a date, so I was just simply stating that that is where I thought most of the films revenue came from.

    The part dealing with the Oscars. I just felt that you were implying that you were right in saying that The Dark Knight was not as good because Titanic has been the most successful film in terms of Academy recognition. If you weren’t, sorry.

    As for what I said about the essays, I was referring more along the lines of the film itself, not so much as how people reacted to it. I think it is very important to note what works of art are the most successful at any given time because it can give you a sense of more or less the mood of society and the qualities of art they appreciated at that time. Again though, in saying I personally don’t believe it is a mystery on why Titanic did so well. But agree to disagree.

    And about Million Dollar Baby, I’m pissed about that movie. No, not what you think. I still haven’t seen the movie (I was pretty young when it came out, not into good movies yet. But I bought the DVD recently and plan to watch it soon) yet. I remarked to a friend a comment like “So you’ve seen Million Dollar Baby after seeing it on his shelf, and that a**hole just assumed I had seen it and blurted out what happened at the very end and how it was so sad. But I’m still looking forward to watching it and I’m sure that I’ll like it.

    Until next time.

  • 31 12-11-2008 at 6:49 pm

    James said...

    Scott, thanks. I certainly was not saying that “The Dark Knight” was/is not as good because “Titanic” has been the most successful film in terms of Academy recognition. We both know that a film winning an Oscar does not necessarily mean that it’s better than another film.

    I’m sorry that someone ruined the film “Million Dollar Baby” for you. That’s almost as bad as ruining The Sixth Sense” for somenone; not quite as bad, but you get my drift (if you’ve seen “The Sixth Sense”).

    Anwyay, you are one of the best strangers I have talked to on the Internet.

    Enjoy the holidays, man. And enjoy “The Dark Knight” whenever you see it on; as I stated before, good films like that do not come around often these days, especially ones based off of comic book characters.

  • 32 12-30-2008 at 2:46 am

    Vihzel said...

    I wonder why no one has ever mentioned anything about the soundtrack because it’s the best-selling instrumental soundtrack of all time. Why? It’s absolutely spectacular and works so well with the movie (and also because of Celine Dion’s contribution). The soundtrack definitely contributed to why so many people went back to the movie theater because it added to the vibe and emotions of the movie.

    In terms of a technical point of view… if a movie like Titanic racked up 11 Oscar awards and 14 Oscar nominations while The Dark Knight, by the looks of the Golden Globes nominations will probably rack up only a Supporting Actor nod for Heath Ledger’s performance (which is very well deserved), Titanic is the superior picture. If The Dark Knight was the “better” picture, then why aren’t there tons of nominations for it from the people at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association? Really, it would be just a matter of simple opinion from the general public on if one film is their personal favorite over the other.

    For me, Titanic is an unforgettable movie but The Dark Knight is a forgettable movie. I still watch Titanic on DVD still to this day. I wonder if there’s a Blu-ray disc for it… hmm… I’ll search for it. There were so many things going for Titanic with the special effects, directing, soundtrack as some examples while The Dark Knight had Heath Ledger. In the end, it’s all a matter of preference.

    In terms of box office numbers, The Dark Knight will ONLY be able to surpass Titanic’s domestic gross due to a re-release of the movie. I wonder how much more money Titanic would make in a re-release… I guess that’ll be a thought left unsolved. Passing the worldwide gross would be impossible since The Dark Knight’s foreign gross = $465 mill while Titanic’s foreign gross = $1.242 billion. A true miracle would have to occur for TDK to surpass Titanic worldwide. So the worldwide record is locked up in the Swiss bank securely.

    I believe it will be a very long time before a movie breaks Titanic’s domestic record (without having to cheat with a re-release) and it will be a very, VERY long time before a movie breaks it’s worldwide record. The gap for #1 and #2 (LotR: RotK) worldwide is $723 mill… basically the movie needed the gross of a Top 30 movie of all time to catch up with Titanic…. and we all know how huge LotR 3 was (at least overseas).

    While TDK was HUGE in the US… it wasn’t really huge at all overseas. We hear so much talk about TDK here… but how well did it do overseas in comparison with its competition? Out of the Top 30 grossing movies of all time (domestic and foreign), it places #21 in highest foreign gross. Even the latest Indiana Jones movie did better than it. So even though it may be #2 in the US, the foreign market shows a very different picture that makes TDK appear quite below average in comparison with how well it did in the US (ranked #28 in that respect). The point of this is that my own argument to why TDK did so well was because of… Heath Ledger’s performance. A Box Office Mojo poll shows that the top reason why people went to see TDK in the first place was hearing about his amazing performance (40%). Now in the US, Heath Ledger is a very well known name and his death was shocking and devastating. To the foreign community? It isn’t as well known so I’m sure that affected the foreign turnout to the movie.

    I’ve had several of my friends all believe that TDK is the highest grossing movie of all time to the point where I had to prove them wrong because that’s what they heard from other TDK fanatics or from sheer belief because of how huge it was and how much media hype it received. Blind loyalty? I believe so.