I won’t waste anyone’s time with this installment of Weekend Openings.  No pussyfooting around or trying to disguise the only new release worth discussing today:

Arguably the most anticipated film of the year, The Dark Knight Rises brings Christopher Nolan’s massively successful and influential Batman trilogy to an end, this time with Tom Hardy’s Bane pushing our hero to his breaking point in a plot to destroy Gotham City once and for all.  This film has been the subject of just about every journalist and commentator associated with the entertainment industry as of late (with even this very site undertaking a Bat-marathon in preparation for it).  What sequel to one of the major cinematic cultural phenomena of the previous decade wouldn’t be? 

Reviews have been very positive overall, though not quite as ecstatic as the reviews greeting its predecessor.  Then again, those slightly less enthused are the lucky ones; critics daring to express disappointment in this film have been the subject of vicious rebukes and even death threats from wretched, pathetic fanboys demanding obedience to their preconceived notions about a film they haven’t even seen yet.  They’re sad and contemptible little snots who have unfortunately left a rancid aura around an otherwise sensational building of anticipation for what may be the most ambitious superhero movie ever.  So far we at The Awards Circuit have been firmly in favor of the film, with Editor Clayton Davis, Joey Magidson and John H. Foote publishing rave reviews and Joey even declaring the film a new high for Nolan and the superhero genre.

Will the Academy award Mr. Nolan with a Best Director nomination as my three colleagues adamantly believe they should, even if only to recognize his accomplishment in bringing this series to fruition?  I cannot answer the “should” of that question until I see it for myself tonight, but I highly doubt the Academy will bite no matter how hard the push.  The Dark Knight had blown away lower (if still sky high) expectations, better reviews, and was a more unprecedented form of blockbuster in its time, and still failed to tickle the Academy’s fancy over more typical Oscar fare.  But who knows, four years and multiple rule changes (in a response to The Dark Knight’s omission that is so obvious even they don’t try very hard to disguise it anymore) later could give voters a change of heart.  Certainly crafts like sound, editing and visual effects are a fairly safe bet for a film as massive in scope as this one.

As for box office, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that it is going to make a killing this weekend.  Even if it weren’t riding such a tremendous tidal wave of hype, final installments of a major film series have historically done better than their earlier incarnations, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Rises ended up with a much higher worldwide take than The Dark Knight.  It’ll probably not beat The Avengers due to Christopher Nolan – to his immeasurable credit – refusing to shoot it in 3D and therefore closing off a form of extra revenue…though a new IMAX record is almost guaranteed.  Put me in for $197-222 million opening haul, Alfred.

As always, tell us your own thoughts of The Dark Knight Rises (because we all know you’re going to see it!) right here on The Awards Circuit.