One year ago tomorrow night, I, along with several million other people around the world, saw for the first time a movie that a majority of humanity considers to be one of, if not the, greatest motion pictures in the history of mankind. If you're already detecting sarcasm behind my hyperbole, consider yourself a sharp cookie.
The Dark Knight is arguably the greatest cultural phenomenon of this young millennium after Barack Obama's electoral victory. Generations from now people will tell their grandkids about how "nothing can top what we saw back in the summer of '08"; It will be remembered like a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that nobody on the planet could escape. So, I figured it would be interesting one year later to revisit the insanity that began with Heath Ledger's tragic death in January of 2008, and culminated with the outrage following the 2009 Oscar nominations and ceremony.
The following numbers speak for themselves, but since I'm a fountain of opinion here I'll chime in with my own thoughts anyway - feel free to follow suit...
The number of times I have seen The Dark Knight: once in its entirety on opening night (non-IMAX); and once, only partially, during a free weekend preview of HBO.
33 and 4,366
The number of weeks The Dark Knight played in American movie theaters, and the number of American theaters in which it opened; the latter being the most of any movie in history. From July through March (yes, just a short four months ago, well after its December 9th DVD release) you could have enjoyed this movie at your local multiplex. According to Box Office Mojo, it closed its run on 54 screens after 9 months (231 days) in theaters, earning $102,067 in its final official weekend. Ostensibly afraid of cannibalizing the audience for its next big hit, Warner Bros. pulled The Dark Knight from theaters days before Watchmen opened (or more descriptively, "tanked") in more than 3,600 theaters. Bet somebody lost sleep on that decision.
The number of official websites for The Dark Knight:
- Warner Bros.
- Concerned Citizens for a Better Gotham
- Clown Travel Agency
- City of Gotham Police Department
- Gotham Police Major Crimes Unit
- I Believe in Harvey Dent
- Why So Serious
The approximate number of people who, by my singular estimation, dressed up as Heath Ledger's Joker for Halloween 2008.
The current ranking of The Dark Knight on the IMDb's Top 250 Movies of All Time list. As you may remember, The Dark Knight debuted at and held the #1 spot for several weeks after its release as fanboys and overzealous voters essentially hijacked the site. It has received more votes than any other movie on the list other than The Shawshank Redemption, itself at the #1 spot due to a rabid cult following that led a campaign to permanently settle the Shawshank/Godfather rivalry a few years ago. That The Dark Knight was unsuccessful in its dethroning effort leads me to believe that Shawshank may be able withstand any threat from any movie for the foreseeable future.
The number of Heath Ledger fans who signed an online petition at The Ultimate Joker to "ask for the character to be withdrawn for good, to never again be used in any future Batman sequel".
The number of external reviews currently linked from The Dark Knight's IMDb page. You can easily add three zeroes to the end of that number to include reviews (two by me alone) from countless bloggers who did not submit their thoughts for linkage. But the number 481 is otherwise relatively meaningless...unless you consider it's a total greater than the reviews linked for The Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather, and Pulp Fiction (three of the six movies now ranked above it) combined.
This is my roundabout way of arguing that, proportionate to its first year of release, The Dark Knight has been reviewed and discussed more than any other movie in history. According to my math there is a 114% chance that your mother, cousin, co-worker, mailman, or granddaughter has an opinion on this movie, and just a shade under a 92% chance that they have reviewed it in their blog, community newspaper, or personal diary. For online consumption comparison purposes, here are the number of search results Google returns for the following queries: godfather review = 578,000 ; "citizen kane" review = 565,000 ; "pulp fiction" review = 1,770,000; shawshank review = 412,000.
If you Google "dark knight" review, you will be presented with 10,300,000 links to peruse; when this post is indexed you can make that 10,300,001.
94 and 82
The current Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores for The Dark Knight, respectively. Among the 41 RT critics considered the "Cream of the Crop", the score drops to 90%. The few Top Critics who dared offer a dissenting opinion on this film - Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal), Stephanie Zacharek (Salon.com), David Edelstein (New York Magazine), and David Denby (The New Yorker) - have received a combined 1,073 comments on their four Rotten Tomatoes review blurbs (click on their names to read the outrageous, eventually frightening comments), and have presumably had to change their home phone numbers and addresses. Seriously.
The remaining Top Critics received a combined 622 comments for their 37 positive reviews. Here are a choice few of the 17 comments for Manohla Dargis' review blurb:
- "Ms. Dargis, this is, perhaps, the best review I've read on The Dark Knight. How many of them have I read? One-hundred and three."
- "What the hell is going on with Rotten Tomatoes? If you click on the Top Critics it says there are 3 rotten reviews for Dark Knight but I only count 3!!...Sorry I mean I only count 2!!! Salon.com and David Denby."
- "ya i'd have sex with this woman"
$533,345,358 and $1,001,921,825
The domestic and worldwide box-office totals (unadjusted for inflation) for The Dark Knight, ranking it #2 (Titanic) and #4 (Titanic, LOTR: The Return of the King, Pirates of the Caribbean 3), respectively. Scroll down here to view the full stunning list of box office records it currently holds. In context, the amount of money shelled out by people to see The Dark Knight in theaters was greater than the 2008 GDP of Liberia.
The number of countries in which The Dark Knight officially opened last summer, including nations from every continent but Antarctica (where it no doubt arrived closer to Thanksgiving). As unlikely as it is, I would not be totally surprised if someone, somewhere is right now seeing The Dark Knight in a theater somewhere off the Box Office Mojo grid.
The number of Academy Awards received by The Dark Knight, for Best Sound Editing and Best Supporting Actor. The film did not earn even a nomination for Best Picture.
The number of movies that will "coincidentally" be nominated for Best Picture beginning this year.
As you can probably tell from this breakdown (and feel free to add to the numbers, by the way), I'm firmly in the "Was it really that great?" camp at this point. To be clear - the historical record will undoubtedly show The Dark Knight to be one of the biggest movies in history, and as an entertaining blockbuster I still think it was nothing short of breathtaking.
But is it still taboo to propose that it wasn't and isn't one of the "best" movies in history, but perhaps just the best comic book/superhero movie? Is the evidence that strong that Christopher Nolan revolutionized the craft of film and created an artistic masterpiece to be studied and taught from in film schools for generations to come? Has the fate of humanity been altered because of this movie?
Did we all just simply swallow the hype?
Come out, come out, wherever you are, opinion revisers...