The mass killing at a movie theater in Aurora, CO Friday morning prompted many movie studios to agree to keep mum about weekend box office earnings until after the weekend was over. Nonetheless, the numbers still managed to “leak” to the press.
According to outlets like The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter, The Dark Knight Rises opened with about $160 million in ticket sales, making it the biggest 2D opening for a film in history. Even with those blockbuster numbers, the movie fell below the $180 million to $200 million expectations. Many suspect that the Aurora massacre kept people away from this movie and other family movies like Ice Age: Continental Drift, which saw steep dips in their box office returns.
In addition to the box office blackout, Dark Knight distributor Warner Brothers cancelled a number of global premieres in the wake of the shooting. And the film company has also asked that certain ads not run for a while.
“[T]he 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, in private, spent the weekend seemingly marveling at the ability of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ to maintain much of its momentum in the wake of the killings,” the Times writes.
Because of the shooting, entertainment analysts expressed surprise at the strong showing for the film.
Movie theaters beefed up security over the weekend, and some put rules in place with regards to costumes. Still, experts think audiences and movie companies will move on from the shooting with minimal long-term impact.
Another Warner Brothers film, Gangster Squad, may also be affected by the tragedy. The movie has a movie-theater shootout scene that could be edited. The trailer was yanked from theaters on Friday. Others say the opening date (September 7) could be changed.