A ‘Dark Knight’ at Cinema 7

Published 9:39 am Friday, July 18, 2008

People started lining up outside the movie theater in Albert Lea at 9 p.m. Thursday — three hours early — to experience the first showing of the season’s biggest blockbuster, Batman’s “The Dark Knight,” at midnight.

“It’s Batman. What’s not to be excited about,” said Tonya Bottelson, who was the first in line Thursday to watch the film.

Hollywood critics have touted it as likely the largest blockbuster of the summer.

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At Cinema 7 at the Northbridge Mall, the single theater in the complex showing the movie sold out at 9:45 p.m. Thursday. The theater was full with 181 people — 120 of those tickets purchased earlier that day.

“This is literally going to be the movie of the summer, hands down,” said theater employee Travis Bottelson, adding he has never in the two years he has been employed with Cinema 7 seen the theater as full as it was Thursday.

To create excitement about the saga’s new villain, three theater employees dressed up as the Joker to greet movie-goers. Travis Bottelson said he expects director Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” to go strong in the theaters for a while this summer.

Heath Ledger, the actor portraying the Joker, had people talking about the film since his tragic death in January. Rumors spread that the dark and twisted character got to Ledger, and that Jack Nicholson, the last actor to portray the supervillain (Tim Burton’s “Batman,” 1989), warned Ledger that the role could get into his head.

The final cause of Ledger’s death was ruled an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, but that didn’t stop people from lining up across the country to witness his last complete film and see what happens next in the recent Batman series.

“The Dark Knight” features Christian Bale as Batman amid a star-studded cast. Batman is again working to fight crime in Gotham, but this time he has a new villain leading all characters on many twists, turns and tests of will.

The Joker terrorizes citizens of Gotham with his clown-mask clad henchmen. Unusual alliances are created that continue to test Batman and Lt. Jim Gordon, played by Gary Oldman.

Fans of “Batman Begins” are in for a plot line that continues to surprise and special effects — including multiple large explosions — are sure to please.

Drew Passingham, who celebrated his 18th birthday at midnight by seeing the movie with dozens of friends, bought his movie ticket Monday. Thursday he sat third in line proudly wearing his “The Dark Knight” T-shirt.

Passingham said he rewatched 2005’s “Batman Begins,” also directed by Christopher Nolan, just before he got to the theater.

“Growing up I was definitely a big Batman fan,” he said.

Undoubtedly many Batman fans filled the line waiting to enter the theater, which circled the entire food court outside the entrance to the theater.

Christine Nicholson grew up appreciating the Batman character, created by Bob Kane for DC Comics, with her father. She went to all the previous Batman film with him as a child.

“I was a big fan of Batman since I was little,” she said. “I just shared that kind of passion with him.”

Waiting in line she said she was excited about the movie because the dedication of Ledger and Bale to their characters and films is “amazing.”

After the 2 1/2 hour film, Nicholson said the movie was everything she was expecting and a lot more.

“It’s definitely something Heath Ledger could have been proud of,” she said.

There is already Oscar buzz surrounding Ledger’s twisted portrayal of the Joker.

“He blew Jack Nicholson’s role out of the water,” Travis Bottelson said.

The film’s cast includes Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. Even Anthony Michael Hall, a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member, has a role as a TV reporter.