It has been described as a "sprawling, epic feast of a movie", a film of "granite, monolithic intensity" and "a fitting epitaph for the hero Gotham deserves". It is, of course, The Dark Knight Rises, the final piece in Christopher Nolan's hugely successful three-part Batman puzzle and perhaps the year's most hotly anticipated release, which is set to reverberate across cinemas screens everywhere when it is released tomorrow.
Everywhere except the Middle East.
As is now common knowledge for regional Batman fans, The Dark Knight Rises will be getting its launch across the GCC, Jordan and Lebanon not with the rest of the world, but almost a month later, most likely on August 16 for the UAE in particular, in time for the Eid Al Fitr holiday after Ramadan. And, predictably, it hasn't gone down too well with disgruntled fans.
Several diehards have said they're going to travel abroad to get their chance to watch the movie, with India being one of the closest possible destinations, while others have attempted to get the decision changed. The biggest concern is that, save for hiding in a box away from the internet and news reports, it will be impossible to avoid plot spoilers during the month's wait. Early reports are already hinting at a rather spectacular and shocking ending.
Screaming for a special screening
A petition that was set up in June to move the date forward now boasts almost 2,000 names, and social media platforms have been heavy with predominantly frustrated discussion.
According to the film's distributor, the Dubai-based Shooting Stars, the film scheduling was made out of respect for "Islamic customs during the Holy Month of Ramadan".
But there are many who suggest it is purely for profit reasons, with cinemas much quieter during the Holy Month as people choose to stay at home with their families.
"It's not cultural reasons, because they do release movies during Ramadan," claims Michael Maksoudian, the Dubai-based man behind the Movie Blogbuster blog, which launched the petition. "The biggest reason is that cinemas don't make money from the movies, but from drinks and popcorn."
One of the main desires from fans is for one or two special screenings when The Dark Knight Rises comes out tomorrow, simply to appease those who are eager to see it before cinemas return to usual Ramadan scheduling. But Shooting Stars - which has no doubt been inundated with emails and calls regarding the issues - has so far ignored requests, including one to answer questions about holding special screenings for this article.
Maksoudian says an open letter was sent to the company inviting it to show the film for one day, and if it wasn't sold out - which it is widely expected to - it could resume with the original release date. He himself found brands that would be willing to sponsor the film for one day, guaranteeing ticket sales. But he's heard nothing.
Not only Bruce Wayne affected
While The Dark Knight Rises might be the most high-profile case, it isn't the only blockbuster to be dealt a blow. The Total Recall remake, out elsewhere on August 3, has been pushed back to the end of the month.
Cast a quick look over to our Film Reviews page on the left, which very obviously reveals a somewhat sparse cinematic line-up, and the schedule of films releasing over the next four weeks - as it is every Ramadan - is littered with C-list titles that you might not have heard of (The Chef, A Gang Story), or ones that had their international release some years ago (Dancing Ninjas, The Guard, Melancholia). Traditionally, Ramadan is a rather slim period for films, as distributors hold back their big titles for the Eid holiday when they can guarantee an audience.
"Most of the people are travelling and don't go and watch movies a lot, that's why we release this kind of movie," says Simon El Khoury of Gulf Film, the biggest distributor across the region, adding that there isn't any cultural sensitivity in play when the schedules are drawn up (anyone who has seen The Guard will note that, while fantastic, it isn't the most Ramadan-friendly of films).
"We take it as an opportunity to release movies that we think in Ramadan can do better than in regular dates. You cannot put Dancing Ninja in front of The Dark Knight Rises, for example."
Michelle Walsh at VOX Cinemas, which has 12 multiplexes across the UAE, says there have been people asking them about The Dark Knight Rises, but the chain has to respect the decision of the distributor as to the release.
"I'm personally dying to find out what happens in the film, so I'm going to have to bury my head in the sand to avoid any spoilers," she says.
While it might be far from a perfect situation (and one unlikely to appease many fans), Walsh says VOX will be showing The Dark Knight - the second of Nolan's Batman films - for two weeks before the Eid weekend release so that people can refamiliarise themselves with the story.
Let's just hope the whole trilogy plot hasn't already been spoilt by then and that no one finds out that Batman dies.
Just kidding. We don't know either.