“The Dark Knight Rises” will be big at the box office, but how big – and how badly attendance was hurt by the Colorado theater massacre – will remain a mystery until Monday.
On Sunday, Warner Bros., rival studios and box office data firm Rentrak held fast to their decision to withhold early numbers and their estimates for the weekend. In a Friday release, the studio said it delay the report “out of respect for the victims and their families.”
At 9:01 a.m. PT Sunday morning, Rentrak Theatrical sent out its box office data spreadsheet titled Weekend Estimates as usual — but it was blank. The blackout means that there was no official data on any film, from art-house indie to blockbuster.
Based on Friday’s grosses, pre-sale figures and anecdotal reports, analysts see the film taking in between $150 million and $170 million for the three days.
“By not releasing box office numbers this weekend, the studios are attempting to turn the focus away from the accustomed monetary rankings, and instead keep the focus on what’s really important — discussing the tragedy and its aftermath,” Exhibitor Relations senior analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap on Sunday. “We can all certainly wait one more day to pontificate on the tabulations.”
The aftermath of the Aurora, Colo., shooting spree, which left 12 dead and dozens injured, created an unprecedented scenario for WB, theater owners and moviegoers. Law enforcement beefed up security at theaters across the nation. In Los Angeles, uniformed and undercover officers were on hand. AMC, one of the nation’s largest theater chains, banned face-covering masks and fake weapons.
Accurate estimates would have been extremely difficult, particularly for Sunday which is typically tough to predict. But based on the what is known, “The Dark Knight Rises” 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.
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.
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.
Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment produced “The Dark Knight Rises” for an estimated $250 million. Christopher Nolan directed the third entry in his Batman trilogy — "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" were the first two — and Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman star.