‘Dark Knight’ Ticket Sales: $25 Million and Counting—Before the Movie Hits Theaters

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It’s hard to overestimate the degree to which fans have been anticipating the arrival in theaters of the new Christopher Nolan-Christian Bale Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Tickets to some of the first showings, at midnight on Thursday evening, sold out more than six months in advance. Seats for opening night are being offered for upwards of $175 on eBay (popcorn and soda not included), and as of Wednesday, some $25 million worth of advance tickets had been already sold.

The Hollywood Reporter predicts that this weekend “The Dark Knight Rises” will net the highest-ever domestic debut for sales for a 2-D film—a title currently held by its predecessor, “The Dark Knight.” The forecast is based on phenomenally strong advance sales, with $25 million worth of tickets selling before the movie actually hit theaters.

The odds against “Dark Knight Rises” having the biggest overall opening are strong because it’s not a 3-D film, and therefore Batman & Co.’s gross sales won’t benefit by the $5 or so surcharge added on for many 3-D movies. “The Avengers” recently scored the biggest three-day opening ever at the box office with $207.4 million in sales, some $35 million of which is estimated to come as a result of the 3-D surcharge. “Dark Knight Rises” is expected to debut in the $185 million to $195 million range for the weekend, though some of the sales will be due to an upcharge for seeing the film on an IMAX screen. (The movie is opening on a largest-ever 330 IMAX screens in the U.S.)

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While some “Dark Knight Rises” showings went on sale months ago, most theaters made tickets available only in recent weeks. According to the Detroit News, the midnight showing at the IMAX Theatre at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn sold out in just 27 minutes after tickets went on sale on June 11. “It usually takes several days to sell out a midnight show,” said the museum’s director of guest services.

Another showing, at the ungodly hour of 3:15 a.m., is already half sold out at the IMAX location. When the movie’s over, viewers should be able to leave theaters just in time for breakfast. Overall, the movie house had sold 4,200 advance tickets to the film, more than double it has ever sold.

The excitement over the “Dark Knight” has inspired quite a black market as well. Tickets for midnight showings in New York City have been listed at Craigslist for $100 a pop for months, and SmartMoney reports that sellers in locations ranging from Los Angeles to Council Bluffs, Iowa, are asking $125 to $150 per ticket. At last check, at least one entrepreneurial type is offering a midnight ticket in New York at the “Buy It Now” price of $175 on eBay ($20 additional for shipping).

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For the record, the retail price for a ticket should be under $20, even for an IMAX showing.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.