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JOKER'S WILD BATMANIA: ENTHUSIASTIC FANS TURN UP AT THEATERS IN MAKEUP, COSTUMES.

Byline: Jerry Berrios

Staff Writer

HOLLYWOOD - Andrew Doss is out of a job because of Batman.

The 21-year-old got fired from an acting gig because he refused to take off his Joker makeup and wanted to skip Friday rehearsals to see the newest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight."

"Look at my face," the Hollywood resident said, pointing to his white makeup, black-outlined eyes and red mouth. "Do I not have that much dedication?"

Doss, who was waiting to see the film a second time at 6:50 a.m., was one of hundreds of people who made an early morning trip to the ArcLight Hollywood theater Friday to catch an early screening of the much-anticipated film.

Batmania was in full force at the theater, where 14 shows between 12:01 and 12:46 a.m. were sold out Friday. A 3:30 a.m. screening in the theater's famed 828-seat Cinerama Dome was also sold out.

Similar scenes played out around the country, as the gloomy action sequel broke box-office records in its first day of release.

The film brought in a record $18.5 million from its 12:01 a.m. screenings in 3,040 theaters nationwide, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers, an Encino-based box office tracking firm.

"It's huge," he said. "... I can't think of a more deserving movie. It is such a great film."

That number shatters the previous midnight-preview record of $16.9 million held by 2005's "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith."

Los Angeles-based Fandango broke its hourly ticket record between 9 and 10 a.m., selling more than 10 "Dark Knight" tickets per second, said company spokesman Harry Medved.

"We are expecting (Friday) will be the best ticket-selling day in the company's eight-year history," he said.

Much of the enthusiasm was generated by a wave of advance praise by critics, and curiosity about what has been called an Oscar-worthy performance by the late actor Heath Ledger.

Ledger, who plays a far darker Joker than Jack Nicholson did in an earlier Batman film, died in January of an accidental prescription-drug overdose.

When ArcLight Cinemas began selling tickets for the 12:01 a.m. show about three weeks ago, it sold out in hours, said Amy Wood, vice president of marketing for the Los Angeles-based company.

Other big pictures -- including "Lord of the Rings," "Indiana Jones" and "Star Wars" -- created the same frenzy.

"There are people who are just into certain films," Wood said. "It's the want-to-see factor."

That want-to-see factor may have made some moviegoers at Friday's early morning shows late for work. Sprinting to their cars Friday morning, they said they didn't have time for media interviews because they didn't want to be late for their jobs.

Ovidio Jimenez didn't have to worry about rushing to his job as a counselor at the Hollywood YMCA. The 21-year-old took a vacation day.

For Jimenez, Batman isn't just a movie, it's a way of life.

The back windshield of his silver Silverado pickup sports a Batman sticker. The truck's mats are painted with the Bat signal.

He proudly showed off his Batman wallet, key chain and the movie-poster screen saver on his phone.

When his economic-stimulus check arrives from the federal government, he will use it to pay for Batman tattoos.

"I have liked him since I was 5," the Hollywood resident said. "Anyone could be Batman. He is just a regular person."

Jimenez bought 20 tickets for his friends to see the show at 12:15 a.m. Friday. When a fire alarm blared during the film, three of them took their vouchers and stood in line for the 6:50 a.m. show.

After a little sleep, Jimenez planned to see the movie for a third time Friday on IMAX at Universal Studios CityWalk.

Once Michael Asdic got out of the 3:30 a.m. movie, he had a two-hour commute to his job in La Jolla. But, it was all worth it.

"Great movie. Good company," said Asdic, 34, of Laguna Nigel. "It is one of those things you don't do very often."

He said going at 3:30 a.m. was his friend's idea.

"The midnight show in the dome was sold out," said Allen Goad, 36, of Stevenson Ranch.

Movies have to be seen in the dome, he said.

Goad slept for about five hours Thursday night and then met Asdic at Mel's Diner before the movie.

While Asdic headed to La Jolla, Goad made his way to his job as operations manager at Crane Aerospace & Electronics in Burbank.

Lea Patrick, dressed in a handmade red-and-black Harlequin-style outfit and red high heels with bows, saw the 3:30 a.m. showing with beau Josh Maxwell.

Her outfit and makeup were an homage to Harley Quinn, the Joker's gal pal in the Batman animated series and comic book.

An actress and model, Patrick made sure her day was free to see the film.

Maxwell, of Apple Valley, said he had to fight with his boss for an extra day off from his job as a Coca-Cola merchandiser.

"I just told him it was my nephew's birthday," Maxwell said.

As the duo stood outside the theater, they decided to see the movie again, pooling Patrick's $22 with Maxwell's $2.

For Doss, the unemployed actor, Ledger's haunting performance was the main reason for seeing the film. And getting fired for his devotion to the movie was all worth it.

"If I could set back time," he says, "I would do it all over again.

Jerry.berries@dailynews.com

661-257-5253

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5 photos

Photo:

(1 -- 3 -- color) no caption (fans in Joker makeup)

(4 -- color) The 3:30 a.m. showing of "Dark Knight" gets rave reviews from exiting fans at the ArcLight Hollywood on Friday.

(5 -- color) Hundreds line up outside the ArcLight Hollywood for the 6:50 a.m. showing Friday. Fourteen shows at the theater between 12:01 and 12:46 a.m. were sold out, with some people viewing the movie twice.

Photos by Gene Blevins
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 19, 2008
Words:1011
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Next Article:HUNDREDS OUT BEFORE EARLY LIGHT TO CATCH FIRST SHOWINGS OF 'DARK KNIGHT' FINANCIAL: FILM SETS BOX-OFFICE RECORDS WITH ITS MIDNIGHT SHOWINGS.


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