In the face of tragedy and fear resulting from a deranged psychotic murderer in Colorado, moviegoers in North America were undeterred as they showed up en masse to see Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight Rises” this past weekend.
The third installment of the Christopher Nolan trilogy garnered a sterling $160.9 million on its debut weekend, marking the third biggest opening in box office history after Disney’s “The Avengers” which tallied a stunning $207.4 million two months ago and another Warner Bros. title, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” with $169.2 million. The previous Batman film, “The Dark Knight,” opened with $158.4 million during the summer of 2008 and now owns the fourth biggest opening ever.
With a reported international cume of $88 million, “Dark Knight Rises” has a worldwide gross of $248.9 million through Sunday.
Looking at the business side, undoubtedly we will never be able to quantify the impact the tragedy in Colorado had on the box office and what could have been, but suffice it to say that it did have an effect and left a scar on the psyches of audiences worldwide. As a result of the events on Friday night, security was increased at many theaters across the country, with police patrolling locations in major metropolitan areas including Los Angeles and New York.
During the weekend Warner Bros. released this statement: “Out of respect for the victims and their families, Warner Bros. Pictures will not be estimating the box office for this weekend. Warner Bros. box office numbers will be released on Monday.” Shortly after that all the other major studios followed suit and joined Warner Bros. in not releasing numbers until Monday, as did the box office reporting agency Rentrak, hence the lateness of this report (see Top Ten Chart below).
The tragedy in Colorado may have marred the business landscape and dampened the mood of moviegoers and the public alike, but it didn’t stop them from keeping the turnstiles spinning. The overall box office in North America was up from the comparable frame last year, and the week to week drops were neither out of character nor excessive; hence the robust results at the box office as a whole.
As the news spread about the terrible events at the one midnight screening, across the media spectrum companies and networks pulled or changed some of the advertising that was set for “Dark Knight Rises” during the weekend, modifying the wording and pulling some of the more violent scenes/trailers or advertisements.
Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in “Dark Knight Rises,” which had 3,825 midnight shows and racked up an impressive $30.64 million – topping the $18.7 million of “The Avengers” and marking the second highest gross from midnight shows on a film debut.
Prior to the tragedy in Colorado some had projected that “Dark Knight Rises” could run as high as the $190 million area, but those projections were out of whack given a tragedy of this magnitude. But besides the horrific events at the one screening in Colorado, the film had a 2 hour and 45 minute running time working against it as well as a lack of higher priced 3-D tickets. An hour of the film was shot in IMAX and it did pick up a slight boost from those higher priced tickets at 332 IMAX locations, whixh contributed a sturdy $19 million to the domestic cume. In contrast, a sizable 52% of theaters for “The Avengers” were playing in 3-D and the running time was a shorter 2 hours and 22 minutes.
The first day gross for the “Dark Knight Rises,” including the midnight shows, was $75.8 million, which was good enough for the third biggest single-day gross of all-time, behind the $91.1 million of “Deathly Hallows Part 2” and the $80.8 million of “The Avengers,” but ahead of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” with $72.7 million.
“Dark Knight Rises” was produced by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures for around $230 million after tax credits, with Legendary covering about 25% of the cost, which has been reported to be between $250 million to $300 million. Altogether the Batman franchise has been a lucrative one for the studio as the six films, not including “Dark Knight Rises,” has generated a stellar $2.6 billion worldwide just at the boxoffice.
Prospects down the road for the Caped Crusader look promising as the film was well received by critics, picking up a strapping aggregate 87% favorable grade according to RottenTomatoes.com, and picked up an outstanding CinemaScore of “A” from audiences. Pleasing both critics and moviegoers all but guarantees solid holds down the road.
The other top films in the marketplace had solid performances this weekend, drawing from diverse genres and demographics, with three PG-rated family appealing films still hanging around the top 10.
On its sophomore session 20th Century Fox’s PG-rated family film “Ice Age: Continental Drift” was in the second spot with $20.4 million, slipping a mild 56% from its debut a week ago. The CG animated comedy has thawed out a cool $88.8 million cume to date.
Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” was in the third slot with $10.89 million, down 69% in its third weekend as it took a direct hit from competing like-genre “Dark Knight Rises.” Not to be dismayed, the webbed one has picked up a stout $228.6 million so far.
The R-rated raunchy comedy “Ted” from Universal was in the fourth spot, adding $10 million to bring the cume to $180.4 million. And Disney’s “The Brave” placed fifth with $6 million as the PG-rated CG animated family film from Pixar cruised past the $200 million mark last week and has a total of $208.8 million in the till.