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Film Intelligence: Batmen of honor

Every week there are dozens of film news stories. We read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week: Batman returns, Rush Limbaugh attacks, and Hef makes a big play.

1. DARK KNIGHT of the Sold-Out Showings

News from our No Doi Bureau: Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his Batman trilogy, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, opens in theaters tomorrow night, and it looks to be one of the biggest movies of the summer, if not the year, if not all-time. Tracking suggests the film will open to something like $180 million domestically, and perhaps push even higher to challenge THE AVENGERS‘ $207 million debut. But that’s just the tip of the Bat-iceberg: AMC Theatres has sold more that 60,000 advance tickets to “The Dark Knight Trilogy” — all three films in one night, leading up to the new movie at midnight — shattering the company’s record for marathon premieres (THE AVENGERS sold about half that many). And it gets crazier: Scalpers were asking for hundreds of dollars for opening-night tickets online. Scalping movie tickets! Guys, it’ll still be in theaters next week. You can see a bargain matinee. There will be less people there to laugh at you when you show up in costume. [Los Angeles Times/MarketWatch/Smart Money]

2. Commenters: The Bane of Critics’ Existence

It’s great to see people excited about a movie — but can you be too excited? Some Bat-fans have worked themselves into such a froth over THE DARK KNIGHT RISES that they’ve begun lashing out at critics who panned the movie. After Marshall Fine posted the first negative review of the film on Rotten Tomatoes, hundreds of commenters heckled and even threatened him with violence. Because, really, when you’re looking forward to a movie about a man who protects the innocent from sick, twisted individuals, what you want to do is honor him by behaving like a sick, twisted individual. Eventually the abuse got so bad that Rotten Tomatoes took the unprecedented step of temporarily shutting down their comments sections for DARK KNIGHT RISES reviews. For extensive coverage of the controversy, an interview with Fine and other amazing things too amazing to fit into this shameless plug, check out the following link to my blog. [Criticwire]

3. The Bile Rises

If you’re a comic book reader, you know that the super-villain Bane wasn’t invented for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES; he first appeared in the Batman comic books in the early 1990s, where he infamously crippled the Dark Knight in a storyline entitled “Knightfall.” This isn’t even Bane’s first appearance in a movie — he showed up as Poison Ivy’s mute muscle in 1997′s BATMAN & ROBIN. Rush Limbaugh, apparently, is not a comic book reader, and this week he accused Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros. and a massive left-wing conspiracy of naming Bane specifically to make folks think of Bain Capital, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s company, and to associate him with the evildoer. “You may think it’s ridiculous,” Limbagh said. “I’m just telling you this is the kind of stuff the Obama team is lining up. The kind of people who would draw this comparison are the kind of people that they are campaigning to. These are the kind of people that they are attempting to appeal to.” He’s right about one thing: I do think it’s ridiculous. [Deadline]

4. R.I.P. Celeste Holm

When lights dim all over Broadway tonight for one minute, they’ll be doing so to honor a legendary theater, film and television actress: Celeste Holm, who originated the role of Ado Annie in the first production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and later won an Oscar for her role in GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT. Holm’s career spanned six decades; today she’s perhaps best remembered for the classic backstage drama ALL ABOUT EVE, where she played Karen, friend to Bette Davis’ Margo. In GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT, notorious in its day for its depiction of anti-Semitism, Holm portrayed Anne, a fashion editor at the magazine where Gregory Peck’s journalist works. Holm died on Sunday at the age of 95. As her character said in ALL ABOUT EVE, “Nothing is forever in the theatre. Whatever it is, it’s here, it flares up, burns hot and then it’s gone.” Gone, but not forgotten. [Los Angeles Times]

5. Hunting (Playboy Bunny) Rabbits

Peter Morgan, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of THE QUEEN, will next examine the life of The Playboy; Morgan is negotiating with Warner Bros. to write a biopic of Playboy magnate Hugh Hefner. Most of Morgan’s work as a screenwriter — THE QUEEN, as well as FROST/NIXON, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL and THE DAMNED UNITED — focuses on fascinating real-world stories, and real-world stories don’t get much more fascinating than Hefner’s. The man built an empire selling sex to America, and he did it while wearing a yachting cap. Hefner himself is on board with the project, and even sent out a complementary tweet about Morgan after the pair met to discuss his life and the film. The only question left is what to call it: PLAYTIME? PLAYING FOR KEEPS? IF THIS YACHT’S A ROCKIN’, DON’T COME A’KNOCKIN’? Why are you asking me? This is why they pay Peter Morgan the big bucks. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Photo credit: Ron Phillips