Will 'The Dark Knight Rises' Surpass 'The Avengers' Opening Ticket Sales?

One premiered months before the other, but they hype surrounding whether "The Dark Knight Rises" would open to a bigger audience than "The Avengers" has hit Mayweather-Pacquiao contentious proportions.

As it turns out, the two films come into the deciding round nearly as evenly matched, too.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Warner Bros.' conclusion to Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" trilogy has hit a clip to barely trail Marvel's billion-dollar-grossing superhero smash's record-setting $207.4-million May debut. The projection for the July 20 opening isn't based upon hard financials, but rather surveys of prospective audiences.

Leaked confidential data from surveys of audiences in the U.S. and Canada showed percentages "definitely interested" in seeing "The Dark Knight Rises" during its opening weekend or considering it to be a "first choice" very close to preferences for "The Avengers" at the same point before its debut: respectively, 64% being "definitely interested" and 22% ranking it a "first choice."

Interestingly, "The Dark Knight Rises" was a more frequent first choice among men, whereas in the same ranking, "The Avengers" carried better with women.

Slightly more people could identify "The Avengers" as a release on the Summer 2012 calendar without prompting than could name "The Dark Knight Rises." Then again, as pointed out in the report, "The Avengers" led the summer's big releases. Call it a primacy effect, one supposes.

Early figures and percentages ranking "The Dark Knight Rises" above "The Dark Knight" in "definitely interested" and "first choice" categories have led to calculated speculation that the third film in the line could top the $158.4 million take that opened "The Dark Knight" in 2009.