Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

'Dark Knight Rises' Opening Clouded by Brutal Theater-Shooting Spree; Ignites Larger Debate UPDATED

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 20, 2012 at 1:14PM

"There's a storm coming," Catwoman whispers in Bruce Wayne's ear in "The Dark Knight Rises." A gunman firing into the crowd inside a Thursday midnight show of the film at a Colorado movie theater, killing 12 and wounding some 22, will yield a firestorm of debate in this presidential election year. Shortly after the start of the film...

"On behalf of all the members and staff of NATO, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this despicable act and their families. We are grateful for the quick and effective response by police and emergency personnel. Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theater owners. NATO members are working closely with local law enforcement agencies and reviewing security procedures."

AMC Theatres stated:

"For the safety and security of our guests and associates, we are actively working with local law enforcement in communities throughout the nation and under the circumstances we are reaching out to all of our theatres to review our safety and security procedures." And later they added:

AMC Theatres is deeply saddened by the Aurora tragedy. Movie going is part of our social fabric and this senseless act shakes us to our core. We’re reinforcing our security procedures with our theatre teams, which we cannot discuss in detail for obvious, safety reasons. Local law enforcement agencies, our landlords and their and our local security teams are stepping up nationwide to ensure we provide the safest environment possible for our guests. We couldn’t be more grateful for their collective support.

At this time, our show schedules circuit-wide will not change. We will not allow any guests into our theatres in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable and we will not permit face-covering masks or fake weapons inside our buildings. If guests wish to exchange or refund any tickets, we will honor our existing policy and do as our guests wish. We are taking necessary precautions to ensure our guests who wish to enjoy a movie this weekend can do so with as much peace of mind as possible in these circumstances.

Landmark Theatres stated:

"Everyone at Landmark is stunned and saddened at this horrible tragedy in Aurora. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and friends as well as everyone who was at the theatre. Guest safety which has always been of utmost importance will continue to be a major priority for us
and all theatre operators. What was one of the world’s most anticipated nights of movie-going has now been affected in the worst imaginable way. Although the media coverage naturally is focused on the shooter, it is the innocent victims and their families who we mourn for today."

The shootings bring a PR nightmare for the studio, reports Variety:

On Friday morning, U.S. TV news outlets mounted extensive coverage of the mass slayings. ABC and CBS were confirmed to broadcast their nightly news programs from Aurora on Friday as a horde of journos descend on the Denver suburb. "TDKR's" association with the slayings is sure to be a PR nightmare for Warner Bros., which has so carefully tended its Batman franchise over the decades. By early Friday morning, ABC News was branding its coverage: "Tragedy in Colorado: The Batman Massacre."

TV newsers were quick to point out that Aurora is less than twenty miles from Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., where two students shot and killed thirteen people in 1999.

As for media coverage of the shootings, ABC News had to apologize for incorrectly reporting that Holmes was a Tea Party member. Slate addresses the politicization of the tragedy.

This article is related to: Batman, The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros./New Line, Exhibition

E-Mail Updates

Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.