In the aftermath of the Colorado shooting during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” Hollywood studios banded together to withhold box-office reporting through the weekend, while Warner Bros. frantically rushed to remove a movie trailer with now eerie relevance.
While the weekend is usually Hollywood’s time to peddle its flashy offerings and tout its millions in box office, the second day of release for “The Dark Knight Rises” was anything but business as usual following the Aurora, Colorado, shootings that killed 12 and wounded 58 at a Friday midnight showing of the new Batman film.
“Words cannot express the horror that I feel,” Christian Bale, who stars as the caped crusader in the film, said in a statement. “I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.”
All of the major studios in Hollywood said Saturday they were joining “Dark Knight Rises” distributor Warner Bros. in withholding their box-office numbers for the weekend. Sony, Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Lionsgate followed Warner Bros.’ lead in forgoing the usual revenue report until Monday out of respect for the victims and their families.
Box-office tracking service Rentrak, too, said it would not report figures this weekend, leaving a weekly Hollywood tradition of boasting to go silent for awhile.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is sure to be among the most lucrative movie openings. It was seen as a possible contender with the record $207.4 million brought in by “The Avengers,” but that appears unlikely even though “The Dark Knight Rises” earned $30.6 million from the Friday midnight screenings alone.
Hollywood trade publications Variety and Hollywood Reporter reported estimates of roughly $75 million to $77 million for the film on Friday, based on box-office insiders. That would put it on track for somewhere around $165 million for the weekend. Such a total would be the second-highest weekend opening ever, after “The Avengers.”
Any projections, though, are bound to be rough approximations given the atypical circumstances. Many of Friday’s tickets were pre-sold before the shooting. Moviegoers making their way to theaters also faced increased security and, in some places, bag checks. AMC Theaters, the country’s second-largest movie chain, said it would not allow costumed fans or face-covered masks into its theaters.
Warner Bros., a subsidiary of Time Warner, also had an unfortunately-timed trailer to contend with. A promo for its upcoming film “Gangster Squad” had been attached to “The Dark Knight Rises.” The trailer for the ‘40s period film, which stars Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling, features a climactic scene in which mobsters fire automatic weapons into a movie theater audience from behind the screen.
The studio immediately pulled the trailer from theaters Friday, but some theaters were still running it as late as Saturday evening. Moviegoers from Connecticut to California complained on social media when they saw the trailer before “The Dark Knight Rises.”
College student Alex Isreal was among those who took to Twitter after seeing the trailer at an AMC theater in Danbury, Connecticut. Addressing the theater chain, she said the trailer was “shown to my horror.”
A representative for Warner Bros. said the studio was working around the clock with exhibitors to pull the “Gangster Squad” trailer. While removal from theaters with digital projectors is quick and easy, cutting the trailer from 35 millimeter projections has proved more difficult.
The trailer appeared to be running in relatively few of the 4,404 theaters playing “The Dark Knight Rises.” Warner Bros. expected it to be totally eliminated by the end of Saturday. The trailer did not run in the Colorado movie theater where the shooting took place.
After quickly canceling a Friday night premiere in Paris, the studio on Saturday also canceled the other remaining red-carpet extravaganzas in Mexico City and Tokyo.
Christopher Nolan, the movie’s director earlier responded to the tragedy, expressing his sorrow for the victims and their families.
Said Nolan: “The movie theater is my home and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.”