'The Dark Knight Rises' could earn up to $195 million on opening weekend in the US, according to predictions. ©All Rights Reserved

(LOS ANGELES-Relaxnews) – With the end of the Batman trilogy by director Christopher Nolan releasing at midnight on Thursday night/Friday morning in the US, fans’ anticipation and critical praise have set up this blockbuster as one of the biggest films at the box office this year.

According to predictions at BoxOffice.com, the finale could earn up to $195 million on opening weekend in the US. During its run the film could collect up to half a billion at the box office, which could bring the total worldwide to over a billion.

The previous installment in this franchise, The Dark Knight, broke opening records in 2008 with $158.4 million in North America and earned $1 billion total worldwide. The first film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, Batman Begins, in 2005 made a total of $372.7 million.

Prior to The Avengers‘ record-breaking box office opening in May with $207.4 million, it was expected that The Dark Knight Rises would hit the top of the box office, but it might pull off a worldwide record.

Based on the classic DC Comics story, the film finds Batman eight years later, with the Dark Knight resurfacing as Bane goes on the attack, overwhelming Gotham and bringing the caped crusader to the rescue.

Stars include Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, and Tom Hardy (Inception) as the villain Bane. Christopher Nolan directs, and he also co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan.

The crime thriller isn’t in 3D but it does contain one hour of IMAX footage and many fans will attend those theaters.

A Batman marathon event at the AMC cinema chain in the US will play all three films in the trilogy. It has sold more than 60,000 advance tickets for all three films — Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. The screenings start at 6 pm, July 19, and a midnight premiere of the third installment begins at 12:01am on July 20.

The action film opens July 19-20 in Australia, Asia, India, the UK and European markets, as well as North America. It opens on July 25-27 in France, Scandinavian countries, Latin America, Russia, and more, with just a few territories following in August.

TV spot No. 14: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuPDQplceAE