Despite the Colorado tragedy, "The Dark Knight Rises" took in an estimated $75 million Friday, and is on track for a weekend in the $170 million range.
Saturday and Sunday attendance will provide a better gauge, but moviegoers on Friday seemed largely undeterred by the shooting spree at a midnight screening of the Warner Bros. blockbuster in suburban Aurora, Colo., that left 12 dead and dozens injured.
The numbers are unofficial and based on data from industry analysts. Warner Bros. said Friday evening that it was not releasing box office numbers on "The Dark Knight Rises" until Monday "out of respect for the victims and their families," and rival studios were also not releasing numbers Saturday. The box office tracking firm Rentrak also said Friday night that it would not be reporting over the weekend.
Even if WB did report, estimating would be extremely difficult, BoxOffice.com senior analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap Saturday. "There are so many unknowns now, particularly with a release of this size, that it is going to be very tough to get a clear handle until the actual figures come in."
The first day grosses for "The Dark Knight Rises" came from 4,404 theaters and were swelled by $30.6 million from midnight screenings and heavy presales.
Prior to the shootings, "The Dark Knight Rises" had been expected to challenge Disney and Marvel's "The Avengers," which bowed in May to $207 million, for the biggest opening weekend of all-time.
It now appears likely to land somewhere between the third-best opening weekend, $158 million posted by "The Dark Knight" in 2008, and the second best, the $169 million put up by "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" last year.
Meanwhile, in a bulletin obtained by the Associated Press, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security told local law enforcement say there is no information indicating that any plans have been uncovered for more shooting sprees at movie theaters around the country. The same message said that investigators have not determined the motivations of alleged gunman James Eagan Holmes.
Security at some movie theaters around the country has been increased after the deadly attack in Colorado. And some events around the world for the premiere of the new Batman movie have been canceled or scaled back.
"The Dark Knight Rises" surpassed the benchmark set by "The Avengers" in midnight screenings Friday night, racking up $30.6 million in 3,825 locations.
Warner Bros. said that Imax screenings of the film contributed $2.3 million to that total in 330 Imax locations. It is the second biggest late-night showing of all time.
The total is short of the record held by "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2," which earned a staggering $43.5 million in midnight shows on about 3,800 screens last year, on its way to a $169.2 million opening weekend. It just surpassed the $30.2 million earned by midnight showings of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1" last November on 3,251 screens. The vampire romance sequel made $138.1 million in its debut weekend.
In May, Disney and Marvel's "The Avengers" took in $18.7 million from midnight shows, though at far fewer locations. The super-team film earned those numbers on 2,500 screens — with $1.3 million coming from 273 Imax screens — on its way to biggest opening weekend ever at $207.4 million.
It was a day of mixed emotions for Warner Bros., which has launched one of the biggest advertising campaigns in movies history, but now must contend with the aftermath of a massacre at a Colorado showing of the superhero sequel. That mass-shooting left 12 people dead and 38 injured and has led theater chains and police departments across the country to announce that they will increase security measures at screenings of the film.
As TheWrap reported, Warner Bros. is considering canceling screenings of the film. Should it proceed with its original rollout plan, "The Dark Knight Rises" will expand to 4,404 theaters across North America on Friday.
Though marred by the tragedy unfolding in the suburb of Aurora, Colo., Christopher Nolan's final film in his franchise enjoyed a massive opening haul.
"The Dark Knight Rises" late-night gross is also a franchise best. "The Dark Knight" earned $18.5 million at midnight back in 2008 and went on to a $158 million debut weekend.
"The Dark Knight Rises" stars Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy and Michael Caine. Taking place eight years after the events of the previous film, the finale finds Batman menaced by the brutish Bane and the slinky Catwoman.