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film news

Warner Bros. withholding box office figures for The Dark Knight Rises

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Saturday, July 21, 2012

Since the rise of the blockbuster, a growing fascination with the opening weekend tally for movies has held sway with the general public. As blockbuster movies continue to shatter weekend forecasts and set new benchmarks for their grosses, so the interest in observing and reporting this news has grown.

In the wake of this weekend's shooting incident at the Aurora theaters, the movie studio behind The Dark Knight Rises has taken the unprecedented move to withhold the opening weekend gross of their film until actual numbers are known on Monday. Early box office estimates have been a part of the regular cycle of news reporting for entertainment outlets like Coming Attractions, so for a major Hollywood studio to do this shows the level of concern for negative public exposure.

Every box office analyst, be they professional or armchair, is predicting that The Dark Knight Rises will open big on its opening weekend. Whether the film breaks the all-time record held by Marvel's The Avengers or bests the opening weekend figure for the last Batman film, The Dark Knight, now Warner Bros. has been placed in the unenviable position of having to distance themselves from the box office grosses. Anything that looks like a celebration of marketing or financial accomplishment will be linked to the Aurora shooting, and the risk of negative PR for the publicly traded corporation is simply far too great to risk.

That's the cold business side of this story, but I also imagine that the people that run Warner Bros. are feeling very emotionally conflicted this weekend. They are trapped between a rock and a hard place, from doing their jobs and promoting The Dark Knight Rises to not coming across as an insensitive, soulless corporation. And the decision to wait until the final ticket sales figures are known on Monday is a wise and sensitive -- as well as difficult -- decision for them to make.

Posts: 152
Posted: 5 years 12 weeks ago

 I think it's going to be bad. I think people are going to be freaking out and ALL BO numbers for this weekend and several to come are going to suffer. Some of it is fear, I've seen some people say they aren't going "out of respect" to those hurt and killed (not sure the logic there, personally).

It doesn't matter, though, how rational the fears are, well-founded, stupid, idealistic: If they stay home for WHATEVER reason, then the dollars still aren't there.

I don't know how that might figure into WBs decision to release or not release the numbers, but I guess I'll have to wait until Monday to see if I'm right.

 You don't have to like it, you just have to do it. --Richard Marcinko
The Swollen Goi...
Posts: 14343
Posted: 5 years 12 weeks ago

Before this weekend, I figured TDKR's opening box office would fall somewhere between the openings for TDK and The Avengers. A big part of this figuring was TDKR's length. At nearly three hours, I guessed it simply couldn't match the number of showings-per-day The Avengers managed. I originally thought it would be something in the 180-190 million range, at best. I wasn't sure what effect Letterman spoiling the ending or the flap over the Rotten Tomatoes disabling comments would have, but I didn't figure it would hurt the movie all that much.

I have no clue how the shooting will change things. I imagine it has cut into profits significantly. On the other hand, it could make it so that TDKR will have a particularly strong second weekend. I wouldn't be surprised if there's less of a drop-off next weekend than is usually the case with blockbusters--if only because some people who really wanted to see it this weekend were turned off of going to see it by the shooting. There might also be some sort of if-we-don't-go-see-it-the-terrorists-win movement. We'll have to wait and see. 

I guess it could also happen that people will completely turn their backs on the movie. I seriously doubt that will be the case, but who knows?

The movie theater has always felt like a second home. My first memory is of being in a movie theater. It's a less-safe-seeming home now, but I've always felt a little paranoid in theaters. I often sit in the front row and scoot down so that my head is below the back of the seat. I've had an illogical fear of being shot in the back of the head in a theater since I was pretty young. Jubbers can attest to this. I'm pretty sure the Abraham Lincoln biography my grandfather gave me when I was eight or nine figures into it. At the same time, I've never felt important enough to be targeted specifically. I'd say the Aurora shooting reminds us all that violence doesn't haven't to target someone specific, but I think this is a realization a lot of us carry with us every day.