WB sticks to plan after Bale arrest

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Allegations involving a rather dark night sounded a four-alarm call for damage control that was heard plainly in Hollywood.

"The Dark Knight" star Christian Bale was arrested Tuesday in London by detectives investigating claims that he assaulted two family members. That sent Warner Bros. executives scrambling to assess the impact on its fledging promo efforts for the film in Europe, but for now the studio aims to hold together its press swing on the continent.

"The European tour is continuing, and Christian's on his way right now with everybody else," a Warners spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Bale participated in a London press junket Monday but did not take part in its second day. He was expected to be on board for interviews today in Barcelona and a swing through Tokyo after that.

The star of the movie was freed after being held for questioning for more than four hours. He is alleged to have assaulted his mother and sister Sunday night in his suite at the Dorchester Hotel.

TMZ, whose Web site often focuses on celebrity-justice cases, said sources close to the Bale case claimed there was little physical contact involved in the incident. Sources told TMZ there was contact between Christian and his mom, but it amounted to little.

"We're told Bale pushed his mom out of the way during the altercation," TMZ reported. "She was not hurt and did not fall down. There's a division of opinion on whether the contact was a 'push' or a 'brush.' "

The Sun newspaper said police did not question the actor until Tuesday because they did not want to interfere with Monday's European premiere of the Batman movie, which Bale attended. The actor reported to a central London police station Tuesday morning in connection with the assault allegations and was released on bail until an unspecified date in September.

"A 34-year-old man attended a police station in central London by appointment and was arrested in connection with an allegation of assault," a police spokesman said.

Warner execs and Bale's publicists were not immediately available for comment on how the situation might affect his involvement in promoting "Dark Knight." The latter issued a statement on Tuesday confirming some of the basic facts of the arrest.

"Christian Bale attended a London police station today, on a voluntary basis, in order to assist with an allegation that had been made against him to the police by his mother and sister," said a statement from the Schillings firm, forwarded by publicists at PMK in Los Angeles. "Mr. Bale, who denies the allegation, cooperated throughout, gave his account in full of the events in question and has left the station without any charge being made against him by the police. At this time, there will be no further comment by Mr. Bale."

"Dark Knight" opened with a record $158.4 million domestically last weekend and rang up another $41.3 million internationally in only 20 territories.

"Dark Knight" fetched $24.5 million from North America on Monday, according to Nielsen EDI data. That represented a record domestic gross for a nonweekend, nonholiday, nonopening day, outpacing the $18.1 million rung up by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" on July 10, 2006.

Bale's arrest coincides with a major ad campaign for the film and for Burger King in which consumers are encouraged to give in to their "dark side." In one ad, a young man refuses to give up his seat to an old lady carrying heavy bags.

Warners execs declined to say whether the Bale arrest was expected to affect the market performance of "Dark Knight" or its marketing.

"Domestically, internationally, I don't think it can hurt them," a highly place exec at a rival studio opined. "It's so imprinted in people's minds that 'Dark Night' is a must-see movie that no one will care if the guy may be a jerk or not."

Media consultant Michael Levine said the incident still could hurt the pic's performance if Bale's mother or daughter make harsh allegations publicly or if other unsavory details emerge. "I think that it will have some impact," Levin said. "To what degree I can't tell you."

Stuart Kemp reported from London; Carl DiOrio reported from Los Angeles.
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