Carroll County Times

Batman arrives: Replica Tumber displayed for premiere of 'The Dark Knight'

GETTYBURG, Pa. - The skies were dark, lightning bolts were visible on the horizon and about two dozen curious bystanders were standing outside anyway.

Despite a looming thunderstorm, Batman aficionados pulled out their cameras and cellphones when Bob Dullam arrived with the Dark Knight Tumbler Batmobile he created himself.

Dullam visited two Pennsylvania movie theaters Thursday with his real-size replica Tumbler, including Gettysburg Village Stadium 10.

Several movie theaters in the area showed a three-movie Batman marathon leading up to the midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," perhaps the most anticipated movie of the summer.

It was the perfect opportunity for Dullam to show off his unique black vehicle, one that took him five years and $70,000 to build.

The exterior, which juts in and out, is complete. But Dullam is still working on making the interior just like the modern-day Batmobile, one that looks decidedly different than the one Bruce Wayne used to speed through Gotham City in for the 1960s TV series.

"I'm never really done with it," said Dullam, who makes everything from cars to costumes to guitars.

Dullam, from Kalamazoo, Mich., started with two 44-inch rear tires and built the car around it. He made nearly everything himself using a chop saw, drill press, welder and reciprocating saw. The body is made of epoxy resin. He created the chassis himself by carefully studying images of the Tumbler and watching "Dark Knight" dozens of times.

There's not another full-scale replica like Dullam's Tumbler in existence, or at least not one Dullam is aware of. He could probably sell the vehicle for hundreds of thousands of dollars. But after years of working so hard on the vehicle, he would be hard pressed to part with it.

"I'd rather build you one than sell you this one," he said.

After spending the day in York, Pa., where he was bombarded by Batman fans and local media, he arrived in Gettysburg just as a heavy thunderstorm was approaching into the area.

He hauled the vehicle to the theater behind a red pickup truck. After popping inside, he started the engine, its roar drowning out claps of thunder. Dullam did a lap around the parking lot while Batman aficionados took dozens of photos.

One curious child wondered if Batman himself would pop out of the entrance. Instead, Dullam did, racing to cover up the top of his Tumbler with a tarp before the rain came.

Fans waiting for the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" peppered Dullam with questions.

Roughly 40 patrons purchased tickets for the three-movie marathon, Gettysburg Village Stadium 10 manager Shari Malin said. She was expecting the theater to be busy this weekend for the latest Batman movie's opening weekend.

The midnight showing had garnered dozens of prepurchased tickets, but she was expecting a larger crowd than that.

"Folks here just tend to show up," Malin said.

That included Dullam Thursday night. Once his car was situated, he asked Malin when the first "The Dark Knight Rises" screening would be.

When she told him it would be midnight, he smiled. "Yeah," he said. "Let's see it."