Dark Knight Rises 2

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.