By Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES, July 22 "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
"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
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.