'Dark Knight' sales below forecasts after shooting

Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:04pm EDT

By Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES, July 22 (Reuters) - "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 $162 million in showings through Sunday in U.S. and Canadian movie theaters, according to studio estimates from people with knowledge of the data. That was lower than the $173 million 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 Friday, killing 12 and wounding 58 more.

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

A spokeswoman for Warner Brothers, which produced "Dark Knight," had no comment.

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

"The Amazing Spider-Man," which opened with near-record sales on July 3, collected $10.5 million over the weekend. The film, produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment, had passed $217 million 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 $10.1 million at the box office. Disney's animated film "Brave" grossed $5.8 million.

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."

After the shooting, theaters tightened security, and Warner Bros. scaled back promotional plans, canceling 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 spokesman for Sony Pictures, which is behind "Spider-Man," declined to comment.

"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 $250 million to produce it, plus tens of millions on marketing.

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

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

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (15)
msruth wrote:
Hollywood has sunk to a new low and the shooter’s actions are just a result of what is being taught in recent movies. The Batman series goes beyond violence and has become more and more brutal and sadistic. It is sad that it takes a tragedy for people to take notice. The real shock is that children would even be allowed in to watch such horrors on film.

Jul 22, 2012 9:59pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
unknownknight wrote:
How about the forecasts were lower because the film is not that great?

Jul 22, 2012 10:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Martial wrote:
The story is dark nothing unusual for this series. Previous Batman films were cheesy compared to this one. What everyone needs to realize is that the directors goal is to make aas real as possible. Very few directors can translate a screenplay into a work of art. Which is what this film is nothing more. Violence in movies is nothing new or unique only the quality varies. I liked it, but that is just as pure art value the story and characters were full of depth, and visually perfect. It’s worth watching.

Jul 22, 2012 10:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.