Dark Knight box office down after shooting

2012-07-23 10:35

Los Angeles - The Dark Knight Rises recorded strong ticket sales in its opening weekend, but well below forecasts given by many in Hollywood, as some moviegoers appeared to have stayed away after a shooting rampage at a midnight showing of the film on Friday.

The film grossed an estimated $162m in showings through Sunday in US and Canadian movie theaters, according to studio estimates from people with knowledge of the data. That was lower than the $173m that had been projected on Saturday based on Friday receipts.

The Dark Knight Rises was one of the most-anticipated films of the year before a gunman opened fire on moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado, early on Friday, killing 12 and wounding 58 more.

Before the shooting, box office forecasters had predicted sales in a range of $170m to $198m from Friday through Sunday, just shy of the record $207 million set by superhero movie The Avengers in May.

Shock value

A spokesperson for Warner Bros, which produced The Dark Knight Rises, had no comment.

Fox's animated family movie Ice Age: Continental Drift, which grossed $44.6m last week and was the top-selling film, had a larger-than-anticipated 51% drop for its second week. It grossed $21m, box office sources said.

The Amazing Spider-Man, which opened with near-record sales on 3 July, collected $10.5m over the weekend. The film, produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment, had passed $217m in domestic sales on Thursday, according to Box Office Mojo.

Universal Pictures' raucous comedy Ted, about a man and his foul-mouthed teddy bear, notched $10.1m at the box office. Disney's animated film Brave grossed $5.8m.

Official figures were not released by movie studios for the first time box office watchers could remember, as the companies withheld weekend results in deference for the shooting victims. Full results are expected on Monday.

"The cable news networks were wall-to-wall with the shooting, so it had some shock value that will keep people away," former Columbia Pictures marketing chief Peter Sealey said. "But it will be short-term. This movie will play for five or six weeks and still do great business."

Declined to comment

After the shooting, theatres tightened security, and Warner Bros scaled back promotional plans, cancelling a Paris premiere and appearances by the cast and crew in Mexico and Japan.

A representative for 20th Century Fox, which released Ice Age, was not available for comment, and a spokesperson for Sony Pictures, which is behind Spider-Man, declined to comment.

The Dark Knight Rises is the third and final film in a popular Batman series starring Christian Bale as the crime-fighting hero and directed by Christopher Nolan. Warner Bros spent $250m to produce it, plus tens of millions on marketing.

On Friday, the studio said showings just after midnight had grossed $30.6m in the North American market. Warner Bros later said it would not release any updated sales figures until Monday.

The Dark Knight took in $158m domestically over its debut weekend in July 2008, a record at the time. It went on to ring up sales of more than $1bn around the world.