Big evening for ‘Dark Knight’ fans at local cinemas
The Owens family — Richard, Jr., Richard, Sr., and Christine — saw the midnight release of “Dark Knight Rises” July 20 at AMC Theatres in Niles’ Golf Mill Center. | Natasha Wasinski~For Sun-times Media
Updated: August 27, 2012 10:46AM
As dusk set in and the skies opened up, people began gathering in the shadows on the sidewalk adjacent to Prospect Avenue in Park Ridge.
Dark, dreary weather July 19 only enhanced the mood for those who stayed out late to see the highly anticipated release of director Christopher Nolan’s dark conclusion to his Batman trilogy.
Adam Sparks, 20, of Park Ridge, and 150 other fans had lined up outside the Pickwick Theatre as early as 10 p.m. for the midnight premiere of “The Dark Night Rises.”
“As a youngster I used to dress up with my cape and mask,” said Sparks, who wore for the occasion a black T-shirt adorned with the superhero’s classic yellow crest.
“I still have my toys and everything,” he said, adding jokingly: “I should have been out here playing with them.”
Several others from the mostly young crowd said they grew up with the Dark Knight series. After the wild success of “The Dark Knight” in 2008, many said they couldn’t wait to see the concluding chapter.
“I’m expecting great things: great graphics, great plot line, great everything,” said Salvatore Rocco La Tragna, 16, whose group of teenage friends was the first in line for theater doors to open.
“I still don’t think it’s going to be as good as the first one,” said Michael Stack, Jr., 14, who unlike his peers preferred “Batman Begins” to “The Dark Knight.”
Pickwick owner Dino Vlahakis said adventure-action films in particular generate a lot of buzz among teenagers and young adults who desire to see new movies immediately.
Though summer blockbusters have always brought in throngs of theatergoers, nowadays people rush to see the latest flicks as soon as they come out.
Vlahakis said that, whereas ticket-sale revenues used to drop 20 to 25 percent a week after a film’s release, that figure today is closer to 50 percent.
Picwick sold 640 tickets to the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the theater’s fourth-largest opening-night crowd.
For Rachel Schwamberger, 18, of Chicago, and Catherine Carini, 17, of Lincolnwood, Christian Bale was reason enough to stay up and brave the rain outside the Pickwick.
Carini prepared for the night by rewatching the second installment the week before.
“I watch ‘The Dark Knight’ regularly,” she said. “You know what’s going to happen but the suspense kills me.”
Both were excited to see new faces in the latest film.
“I’m confident in the supporting cast,” Carini said. “Anne Hathaway rocks. She’ll be more like the classy Catwoman.”
“She’ll bring her own spin to it,” Schwamberger added.
Alyssa Rathan, 20, of Chicago, also felt confident in Hathaway’s ability to play Batman’s feline frenemy.
“I think she’s really versatile and can pull it off,” she said.
At AMC Theatres in Niles’ Golf Mill Shopping Center, Batman fans also trickled in for the midnight showing. By 11 p.m. the cinema had sold 900 of 2,100 tickets, according to theater staff.
Moviegoers Christine Owens and her husband, Richard, Sr., along with son Richard, Jr., came to the premiere in matching “The Dark Knight Rises” shirts.
Owens also carried with her a plush Batman and Catwoman, and wore a Batman-themed ring, watch and bracelet.
The couple’s son inspired their fanfare.
“Batman was like his third or fourth word,” Owens said.
Richard, Jr. said he prefers Batman to other superheroes because of his ability to “stand up to the other guys without (having) powers.”
Caped Crusaders and nemeses, alike, made an appearance at the Niles’ cinema, too.
Tatiana Thomas, 22, of Chicago, told her friends they couldn’t catch a ride to the theater unless they suited up.
Thomas went as the feminine version of Batman. Her boyfriend, Richard Calbrese, doubled that night as Bane, Batman’s main foe in “The Dark Knight Rises.” Friends Alex Conforti dressed as Mr. Freeze, Joseph Welman painted his face like The Joker, and Sara Ortice played the part of The Riddler.
From behind his mask Calbrese summed up the group’s allegiance to the movie series: “Batman is just awesome.”
The excitement of the film’s opening was later overshadowed by news of a deadly shooting rampage at a sold-out Colorado theater that left a dozen people dead and nearly 60 wounded. Police identified the gunman as 24-year-old James Holmes.
A spokesman for AMC issued this statement:
“We are terribly saddened by the random act of violence in Aurora and our thoughts are with the victims and their families. For the safety and security of our guests and associates, we are actively working with local law enforcement in communities throughout the nation and, under the circumstances, we are reaching out to all of our theatres to review our safety and security procedures. Being a safe place in the community for all our guests is a top priority at AMC and we take that responsibility very seriously.”
The cinema is owned by movie-theater chain Cinemark.