The mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater late last month dented ticket sales for The Dark Knight Rises, but not by much: The film, which is the culmination of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, took in about US$162 million over the weekend in North America.
That huge No. 1 total fell below prerelease expectations of ticket sales totaling about US$190 million, an indication that some moviegoers were either not in the mood to watch a violent comic book caper or worried about theater safety after the carnage in Aurora, Colorado.
Still, the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises managed to score one of the best opening weekends at the box office. Marvel’s The Avengers took in US$207.4 million over its first three days, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, opened with US$169.2 million in ticket sales.
Hollywood was publicly silent about box-office results on Sunday; studios, citing respect for the 12 people killed at a midnight viewing of The Dark Knight Rises, declined to report totals. Rentrak, which collects the data from theaters and provides them to studios, and other aggregators, like Hollywood.com, also declined to report figures.
“Putting an emphasis on grosses at this time just doesn’t feel appropriate,” said Phil Contrino, editor of Boxoffice.com.
But the money at stake was too big for moviedom to ignore, and studio officials with access to box-office numbers provided them to The New York Times. Those officials privately spent the weekend marveling at the ability of The Dark Knight Rises to maintain much of its momentum in the wake of the killings.
The movie’s distributor, Warner Bros, did have the benefit of strong advance ticket sales; many shows for Friday night sold out long before the killings, and there were reports of ticket scalpers, a rarity for the movies. The Dark Knight Rises also benefited from a bit of luck — well-behaved patrons and sensible theater managers. After the shootings, studio executives were concerned about potential copycats or sensitive theater managers evacuating auditoriums and prompting media coverage. Security was increased dramatically at many theaters, and there appeared to be no major incidents.
Warner officials had no comment on Sunday. The studio and its production and financing partner, Legendary Entertainment, spent an estimated US$250 million to make The Dark Knight Rises, with marketing costs pushing the total cost of this PG-13 movie over US$400 million.
The film’s sales total, which included exceptionally strong results at Imax theaters, came from 4,404 locations in North America, or about 80 percent of the available theaters. Second place for the weekend went to Ice Age: Continental Drift (20th Century Fox), which took in a solid US$21 million, for a two-week total of about US$90 million, according to multiple studio officials with access to box-office data.
The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony Pictures Entertainment) was third, selling about US$11 million in tickets and lifting its three-week total to about US$229 million. The raunchy comedy Ted (Universal Pictures) chugged away in fourth place, taking in an estimated US$10 million, for a four-week total of US$180 million. Disney-Pixar’s Brave was fifth in its fifth week, selling about US$6 million in tickets, for a new total of US$209 million.