‘Dark Knight Rises’ Can’t Save Battered Box Office

Batman makes $18M Friday but won’t crack $60M as shootings, Olympics take toll. “The Watch” disappoints in what looks like a bleak box-office weekend

Last Updated: July 28, 2012 @ 11:15 AM

The Colorado shootings continued to cast a chilling shadow Friday, as “Dark Knight Rises” made $18 million but appears unlikely to crack $60 million over what is looking like a bleak box-office weekend.

Warner Bros. went in hoping the “Dark Knight Rises” could lead a box-office rebound, and analysts had it doing $65 million for the weekend. “The Dark Knight” made $75 million in its second week back in 2008. After Friday, the overall gross for the final entry in director Christopher Nolan's trilogy now stands at $243 million after a week in release.

Overseas Friday, "The Dark Knight Rises" grossed an estimated $27.4 million from 57 markets, bringing the international cume to date to $176.1 and the wordwide to $419.1 million.

The overal domesticl box office numbers indicate many moviegoers are still affected by last weekend’s tragedy and suggest the opening of the London Olympics hurt, too. The studios knew it would be tough going in. They were told by research firm NRG that 20 percent to 25 percent of moviegoers remained hesitant about going to the theaters.

Also read: After Colorado Shootings, a Wake-Up Call for Theater Security

If the audience trends continue, the weekend could finish down as much as 30 percent from the same frame last year, when "Cowboys and Aliens" made $36.4 million and "The Smurfs" took in $35.6 million.

Fox’s “The Watch,” starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill, debuted to a disappointing $4.4 million Friday. Audiences gave it a “C+” CinemaScore, so it could finish No. 2 but will be lucky to hit $12 million for the three days. Analysts had it in the $20 million range for the weekend.

The more likely runner-up is Fox stablemate "Ice Age: Continental Drift," which took in $4 million Friday and is on pace for a $13 million third weekend.

The weekend's other wide opener, Summit’s dance movie “Step Up Revolution,” took in around $5 million and is looking at around $12 million for the three days. “Audiences gave it a “B+"

There wasn't much heat for the holdovers.

Universal's "Ted" raised its overall domestic gross to $193 million with a $2.1 million Friday and is on pace for a $7 million weekend. "Sony's "The Amazing Spider-Man" pushed its overall domestic gross to $237 million with a $1.9 millon Friday, with $6 million likely for the three days. Disney and Pixar's "Brave" is at $217 million overall after making $1.2 million Friday, and is on pace for a $4 million weekend.

Earlier …

Hollywood will be holding its breath this weekend, watching to see to what degree the impact of the Colorado shootings will continue to be felt by “Dark Knight Rises” and the overall box office.

The studios know it could be a tough weekend. Research firm NRG has told them that 20 percent to 25 percent of the moviegoing audience remains hesitant to go to the movies because of last week's tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado that killed 12 and wounded 58.

“Dark Knight Rises” is still projected by industry analysts to take in around $65 million in its second week, which would be a roughly 60 percent drop from its $160 million three-day debut. The weekend’s other wide openers are the R-rated Fox comedy “The Watch” and Summit Entertainment’s dance movie “Step Up Revolution.”

The question is global, too. By Friday, Warner Bros.’ will have the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy in more than 40 markets and at more than 17,000 sites. The film made $15 million from the 23 markets it’s currently in on Wednesday, raising its foreign gross to a healthy $125 million going into this weekend’s massive rollout.

Fallout from the fatal shootings had a clear impact on “Dark Knight Rises” and the overall box office last weekend, but how much is unclear. And how wary moviegoers will remain this weekend is an unknown, so projections are particularly tricky this week.

“Everything is still a little out of whack at this point,” Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co. told TheWrap Thursday, and probably will be for the next couple of weeks.”

Warner Bros. would be happy to see second-week numbers for “Dark Knight Rises” match those of the previous film in the Batman franchise, “The Dark Knight," which made $75 million in its second week in 2008, after opening to $158 million.

“I think Hollywood and moviegoers in general can be positive,” BoxOffice.com editor-in-chief Phil Contrino told TheWrap Thursday. “There is sure to be some impact going forward, but we’re resilient as a people, and every weekend should get better.”

The performance of holdovers including Universal’s “Ted” and Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” also will be an indication of how quickly the box office can bounce back. Both of those films and most of the top ten took bigger-than-expected drops last weekend.

If they don’t, and if “Dark Knight Rises” and “The Watch” both underperform, “we’ll be in some troubled waters for the next weeks,” Bock said.

Also read: 'Gangster Squad' Opening Is Officially Moved to Jan. 11

“The Watch,” had its own brush with reality earlier this year.

The comedy, which stars Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn, revolves around a group of suburban fathers who join a neighborhood watch group to break up their daily routines and end up doing battle with invading aliens.

In was originally titled “Neighborhood Watch,” but in May Fox opted to change its title out of sensitivity to, and to avoid any connection with, the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. The man accused of the shooting was part of a neighborhood watch program.

The studio is releasing the film, which carries a production budget of $69 million and was directed by Akiva Schafer, at 3,168 locations. Schafer (“Hot Rod’) is best known for his work directing digital shorts for TV’s “Saturday Night Live.”

The critics have been tough on it. Only 33 percent of the reviews at the website Movie Review Intelligence have been positive, just 12 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. MetaCritic gives it a 42 rating.

Despite that, analysts believe the film's starpower will lift it to a debut north of $20 million. Fox sees it landing between $13 million and $15 million.

“Step Up Revolution,’ from Summit Entertainment, is the fourth film in the dance drama franchise. They’ve posted progressively smaller openings in the U.S., ranging from the original’s $20 million bow in 2006 to the $16 million debut of 2010’s “Step Up 3-D."

Disney’s Buena Vista distributed the first three films domestically while Summit handled international, which is where the franchise has found the most success. The first three averaged $141 million in worldwide grosses and the last one, “Step Up 3-D,” made nearly three-fourths of its $159 million overseas.

Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Guzman star and Scott Speer directs. “Step Up Revolution” is rated PG-13 and will be on 2,500 screens.

The critics aren’t dancing. Rotten Tomatoes and Movie Review Intelligence posting 24 percent and 49 percent positive reviews respectively. Its MetaCritic rating is 39.

Analysts see it taking in around $12 million for the weekend.

“Ruby Sparks,” a romantic comedy from Fox Searchlight, bowed at 13 locations on Wednesday. It’s the first film from the husband-and-wife directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris since "Little Miss Sunshine," an $8 million comedy that grossed more than $100 million worldwide in 2006.

Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas star in the R-rated tale of a struggling writer (Dano) who finds that one of his characters, Ruby Sparks (Kazan), has come to life, but that complete control over another person is both irresistible and terrible to wield.