<i>The Dark Knight Rises</i> Opening Could Rival <i>The Avengers</i>

The biggest fight this summer won't be between Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Loki or Batman and Bane, but between The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.

The Marvel ensemble movie skyrocketed to record-breaking blockbuster success after early tracking numbers placed it on a course to open domestically with about $125 million. Of course, the Joss Whedon-directed film blew that estimate out of the water, grossing $207. 4 million in its first weekend on the way to becoming the third highest-grossing film of all time, behind Avatar and Titanic.

So, does The Dark Knight Rises stand a chance of dethroning The Avengers? According to the Los Angeles Times, the tracking numbers are actually very close to that of The Avengers, with the conclusion of director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy projected to gross $150 million in its opening. But as you can see from the pre-release tracking for The Avengers, these estimates are far from perfect.

When the Warner Bros. release arrives in theaters July 20, it will be met with little competition; earlier this week, Universal Pictures changed the release of The Bourne Legacy from Aug. 3 to Aug. 10 to move the action film out of the path of The Dark Knight Rises and Sony's Total Recall remake. Its most obvious competitor, Columbia Pictures' The Amazing Spider-Man, opens more than two weeks earlier to take advantage of the long Independence Day holiday, during which it's expected to rake in about $125 million.

The Dark Knight Rises sees the return of franchise stars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman, joined by Anne Hathaway, Tom hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard.

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