SAHIR NADEEM is one of Australia's most enthusiastic Batman fans. ''I feel I was born to watch this movie,'' he says of The Dark Knight Rises, the final instalment in director Christopher Nolan's trilogy about the caped crusader.
''Everyone is a Batman fan deep down inside.'' Nadeem, a 24-year-old science and economics student from Voyager Point, grew up with Batman comic books. ''I just remember these giant images of a mighty bat crushing people down and I was like 'wow, this is cool. I wish I was like this guy sometimes'.''
Garry Maddox reports that like Nadeem and hundreds of other Batman fans, Amanda Levick will be at one of the first sessions of the new movie at 12.01am tomorrow. If it still fitted, she would wear her Catwoman costume.
''I have a picture of me when I was three years old wearing a little Batman outfit,'' she says. ''I used to run around my house going 'na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na Batman'.''
Even without the local appeal of the late Heath Ledger as The Joker in the 2008 film The Dark Knight, Nolan's final Batman movie is expected to be one of this year's biggest hits.
It might not reach the $53.3 million taken by The Avengers, now the country's third highest-grossing movie behind Avatar and Titanic, but it will confirm the impact of comic book superheroes at the box office this year.
In a movie that had its Sydney premiere at Darling Harbour's IMAX cinema last night, Batman (Christian Bale) takes on a masked villain named Bane (Tom Hardy). David Seargeant, the managing director of Amalgamated Holdings, which owns the Event Cinemas chain, says the midnight sessions have virtually sold out and advanced ticket sales have exceeded the Twilight instalments and are approaching the final Harry Potter movie.
''Movies of the superhero genre take you right away from everything that's happening in your everyday life,'' he says. ''It's pure escapism.''