The table has stage set for the two major comic book houses, Marvel and DC Comics, to duke it out in theatres long into the summer. The first punch in the fight was thrown on Sunday, when The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that the final trailer for DC's The Dark Knight Rises will debut before Marvel's The Avengers, which opens on May 4.
The Dark Knight Rises is the third and final film in director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. As THR notes, this isn't the first time a DC trailer's debuted before a Marvel movie. A trailer for The Dark Knight, the last Batman movie, debuted before Marvel's 2008 hit Iron Man. The move worked out well for The Dark Knight. When it opened in 2008 it held the record for the highest grossing opening weekend of all time, though Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2 took that title last year.
It's a genius move for Warner Brothers, the distribution company in charge of the Batman movies. The new Avengers movie is projected to gross over $150 million when it opens two weeks from now, which puts it in the same ballpark as The Dark Knight's opening weekend gross. If The Avengers does draw that many tickets, The Dark Knight Rises will piggy back the momentum from one of the biggest movies of the summer and ride it into it's July opening weekend.
The dark horse in all of this is Marvel's new Amazing Spider-Man reboot, which opens two weeks before The Dark Knight Rises. When the franchise debuted in 2002 it set opening weekend box office records. So did the third movie in the series when it opened in 2007, thanks largely to fan excitement over the introduction of the Venom character. But the movie flopped with fans (it received a 6.0 on Metacritic) and loose plans for a fourth movie were scrapped in favor of starting from scratch. The original movie was widely credited with igniting the superhero movie trend, but now the reboot is getting suffocated by Avengers and Dark Knight excitement, and it's looking more and more like the neglected step-child of a lucrative summer superhero box-office season.