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Dark Knight Rises, Will the Dow Jones Fall?

Updated on July 26, 2012

Is it 2008 all over again?

The Dark Knight topped the box office starting the weekend of July 18-20, 2008, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 11,496. It was the best depressing movie of the summer, with the Joker's theme of chaos dominating audiences for four weeks. It was the start of the Great Recession which would find the Dow Jones falling 4,000 point by year end. Now, four years later, the third in this outstanding trilogy hits theaters, winning the box office weekend of July 20-22 with a haul of $160 million, a tragic slaughter of 12 audience patrons in Colorado at a midnight showing and ominous economic winds blowing around the world. Will The Dark Knight Rising signal yet another Great Recession or worse, a second Great Depression?

The Dark Knight Rises Movie Trailer

The Joker's Words of Chaos

TheDark Knightfeatured an economic fable of chaos over order, with the Joker burning a mountain of cash and injecting fear into the citizens of Gotham. He spouted prophetic words of the imminent financial collapse with lines like:

  • "Nobody panics when things go according to plan",
  • "It's not about money; it's about sending a message",
  • "I'm a dog chasing cars; I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it,"
  • "Do I look like a guy with a plan?"

Albert, the butler, sums up the Joker best when he says,"Some men just want to watch the world burn."

The Dark Knight kicked the Recession into Gear in 2008

The summer of 2008 was the last gasp before the crushing financial house of cards collapsed.
The summer of 2008 was the last gasp before the crushing financial house of cards collapsed. | Source

The World Burns as Batman takes the Rap

Burn it did, with only the massive bailouts of banks by the Federal Reserve preventing the implosion of the world's financial system. The Dow Jones has recovered all its losses. The release of The Dark Knight Rises marks another pivotal time for the world's economy, exactly four years later. If anything, the third movie is more depressingly bleak that the previous two films, yet just as popular at the box office as the previous films. Gotham has freed itself from the criminals who dominated the city, but by passing a law based on a lie, the death of Harvey Dent, criminal turned hero while The Batman takes the murder rap and essentially disappears for 8 years. It is as if we saved ourselves in 2008 by passing laws based on lies and the regulators remain in hiding. Yet we feel the recession every day. The truth is still out there, that the economy hasn't recovered.

The Dark Knight Opinion Poll

Were you depressed about the future after watching The Dark Knight Rises?

See results

The truth is the theme of the movie

"Maybe now isn't the time for the truth" is Commissioner Gordon's reason for keeping quiet about the true evil nature of Harvey Dent and the injustice of branding The Batman as a murderer. But Gotham will not be spared again as a new menace takes Gotham hostage and punished those that "live so large and leave so little for the rest of us." Bane is the evil force who reveals the truth about Harvey Dent, a survivor of an infamous prison pit "where men are thrown to suffer", but "sometimes the pit throws someone back". Maybe a banker or two, or a Dow Jones stock actually reporting a loss? The only winner may be the box office, if the Dark Knight repeats for a few more weeks.

The Imagery is Devastating for the American Dream

The Dark Knight goes out of its way to crush icons, from football stadiums imploding behind a kickoff return to the tattered flag atop City Hall. Bane leads the League of Shadows in his role as being a "necessary evil", freeing the people and "feeding them hope to poison their souls". We see show trials of the rich and famous, executed much like the aristocrats during the French Revolution. Exile or death, both horrible options. Even the rest of America partners with Bane to keep Gotham hostage from the rest of the country, following orders instead of the rights of individual citizens.

As the Dark Knight Rises, Will the Dow Jones Fall?

Will we see the same results as four years ago, when the last Dark Knight proved so popular with audiences?
Will we see the same results as four years ago, when the last Dark Knight proved so popular with audiences? | Source

Initial Market Reaction since the premiere at midnight shows on July 20

TheDow Jones opened July 20th at 12,942 to the grim news of the Colorado theater massacre. It closed at 12,617 on Tuesday, July 24, a drop of -2.5%. Where do we go from here? Is this 2008 once again, only worse? Is the truth still hidden from us; The Batman in hiding while the criminals remain free to keep us hostage? Only time will tell but the Dow Jones similarities are eerily familiar as I described in my book, "Movies We Love in Times of Depression". We make hits out of our worst fears, like we did in the early 1930s and again in the 1970s and now in the first decade of the 21st century.

You are warned, by the heroes you reward at the box office. TheDark Knightis Rising again, and the Markets could fall again, fast and hard.

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