Despite the tragedy in Colorado, where James Holmes is accused of fatally shooting 12 people and wounding dozens more at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” audiences haven’t shied away from seeing the movie.
According to the Associated Press, the film broke a box office record in its opening weekend: It earned $160,887,295, the biggest 2-D opening ever, ahead of its 2008 predecessor, “The Dark Knight.” The film achieved the third-largest opening ever, after the 3-D films “The Avengers” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2.”
Despite the impressive $160.9 million opening, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ fell somewhat below box office expectations going into the weekend, which ranged from $170 million to $200 million.
“Clearly, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ was on everyone’s minds,” said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for Hollywood.com who specializes in box office. “I think the American public showed they were not going to be sacred away from the movie theater by the actions of a lunatic.”
Dergarabedian called the film’s opening “extremely impressive given the tragic events that unfolded on Friday.”
Fresh off the new film’s record weekend, Warner Bros. — working in coordination with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — announced late Monday that it will make a “substantial” donation to Aurora shooting victims, Variety reports. According to the trade paper, “The funds will be donated through Colorado's Community First Foundation, identified on the givingfirst.org Web site and distributed through several charities that support the shooting victims.”
Despite the impressive numbers, many people stayed away from the film as vigils and mourning continues in Colorado and across the country. A few copycat threats were reported across the country, according to the Associated Press:
In Southern California, a man at a Sunday afternoon showing of the film was arrested after witnesses said he made threats and alluded to the Aurora shooting when the movie didn’t start.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were called to a cinema complex in Norwalk after moviegoers said 52-year-old Clark Tabor shouted: “I should go off like in Colorado.” They said he then asked: “Does anybody have a gun?”
A security guard saw Tabor with a backpack on his knees in the second row, but deputies who searched the bag, the theater and its surrounding area did not find any weapon.
The Post’s Paul Farhi examined the issue of copycats in a recent column.
“Some people do get ideas that they hadn’t had before and are willing to try them out,” says Howard Zonana, a Yale professor of psychiatry and law. “We’re all susceptible to [media] influences, to a degree. It could be that someone is disgruntled enough and sees that he can go out in a big blast of fame.”
Still, with heightened security in theaters nationwide, people are still eager to see “The Dark Knight Rises,” wrote Eli Saslow and Marc Fisher.
At the Regal Gallery Place multiplex in Washington’s Northwest, ushers searched moviegoers’ bags and purses as they filed in. The queue to see “The Dark Knight Rises” still stretched around the block outside the Uptown Theatre in Cleveland Park, but no costumed Batmen waited out front as they had the previous night.
“Nobody’s even wearing a Batman T-shirt,” said a woman who cuddled with her date during previews at the Avalon theater farther up Connecticut Avenue NW, in Chevy Chase. There, only 200 people came out to the 450-seat theater for the 8:15 show Friday. Three police officers stood outside, chatting and laughing, being a presence.
Just before the theater darkened, an employee walked up to each emergency exit and made certain they were locked. The security check gave some customers a sense of assurance and unnerved others, including a man who popped up and ran his hand over the fabric that hangs from theater walls, as if to assure himself that nothing was hidden beneath the folds.
And for those who saw the eagerly-awaited film, though their feelings may have been muted by the shooting, enthusiasm for Batman has not waned. The film received three and a half out of four possible stars from critic Ann Hornaday, who called the film “completely satisfying.”
Ultimately, like all the movies, “The Dark Knight Rises” is all about The One: If the Batman trilogy has celebrated anything, it has been the unfettered power of the individual over an ungrateful rabble, a vigilante ethic that may have gone underground in “The Dark Knight” but that has never been critically questioned. Viewers will have plenty of time to argue those philosophical implications now that Nolan’s trilogy has wrapped.