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Saddened But Undaunted, Moviegoers Line Up for 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Dark Knight Rises Alfred with Bruce Wayne Still - H 2012
Warner Bros.
"The Dark Knight Rises"

UPDATED: As the movie opens across the nation in the wake of the massacre, one audience member describes "a real sadness combined with somberness," while another says, "I can't live in fear."

Moviegoers in New York and Los Angeles lined up Friday afternoon to see The Dark Knight Rises, even as details about the shooting that claimed at least 12 lives at a midnight screening in Aurora, Colo. were still emerging. Many expressed sympathy for the victims, some confessed to nagging concerns for their own safety. But most said they refused to let the day’s tragic events dictate their own lives.

“I can’t live in fear. I won’t live in fear. I’m not going to let one person determine my life if he acts out,” said Lenore Deshong, 43, who was heading to the Pacific 18 Theatres at the Grove in the Fairfax District of LA.

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Daryn McCrillis, 47, who identified himself as a professional gambler, said he “had no fear whatsoever” about attending a showing, but that what had become an eagerly-awaited movie event was now colored by “just a real sadness, combined with a somberness.” Although a number of friends “bailed out because of the shooting,” Sharod Penniman, a 19-year-old student, said, “I was sort of scared but I got over it.”

Dark Knight Rises is expected to gross $80 million to $90 million at the domestic box office on Friday for a weekend opening in the $175 million to $180 million range, which would be the second-best three-day debut of all time behind The Avengers ($207 million). Warner Bros. will not be reporting box office figures during the weekend "out of respect for the victims and their families."

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“It didn’t deter me from coming to see the film, not at all,” commented Kimberly Datnow, a 26-year-old actress from London, interviewed at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood. She described a conversation with her manager: “He was like, ‘wear a bulletproof vest,' so I was going to put on a vest, but I thought it was a nice day, so ... Obviously, there’s a little bit of tension. It’s a horrible, horrible thing that happened in Colorado, but I think that it adds to the excitement of the movie a little bit, because it is like an exciting movie.”

Artie Perry, 42, a self-described Batman “super-fan,” in line at the Regal Battery Park cinema in New York, said, “The whole situation is a bummer, but it has nothing to do with the Batman movies, except for the fact that it took place at that particular movie. At least, I hope this guy is not some weird fan. I don’t want him to taint all Batman fanatics – but he wouldn’t because he’s a punk. Bottom line is, he’s nuts, and no movie can make anybody do that. If anything, this is the kind of movie that would inspire people to stop crime.”

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On their way into the theaters, most insisted that the massacre wouldn’t affect their enjoyment of the film. But Mariela Osorio, 23, who had just seen the movie, said that the day’s news did have an impact, “because when you see the shooting that’s going on in the movie, it impacts you – you think about it. It’s so weird. I was thinking about it when I was watching the movie, but what can we do, right?”

But that wasn’t the case for Derek DiMaggio, 32, who said, “I go to the movies to kind of escape from reality. It’s a sad thing to try to escape from, but I wanted to see a good movie.”

Several moviegoers did note the heightened security at a number of theaters. Police in Los Angeles, New York and other cities have said that they are increasing their presence at movie theaters this weekend. Theater chains also have said they will increase security at their facilities.

At the Arclight, Martha Guillen, 47, said, “We just heard that there would be more security at the theaters, so we felt comfortable coming here. It’s not a midnight show, so I feel a lot safer.” Pointing to several police officers standing nearby at the New York theater, Perry said, "It was nice of the city to send them out here, but it doesn't make me feel any better.”

Jane Kellogg contributed to this report.