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Research firm NRG — which film companies use to track interest in their movies — has informed its clients that 20 percent to 25 percent of the moviegoing audience is hesitant to make a trip to the cinema because of last week’s tragedy during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
That could pose problems for 20th Century Fox’s R-rated comedy The Watch, starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade. The sci-fi fantasy, about a group of neighborhood watch volunteers who suddenly find themselves battling an alien invasion, was only tracking so-so before the shooting.
Box-office observers believe The Watch will debut in $13 million to $15 million range, a soft opening considering the film’s stars. However, R-rated comedies have had a tough time this summer outside of Ted. Adam Sandler’s R-rated That’s My Boy debuted to a dismal $13.5 million last month.
The Watch was originally titled Neighborhood Watch, but Fox made the name change following the shooting of Trayvon Martin by Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman in Florida.
The weekend’s other new nationwide release is Summit Entertainment’s 3D dance pic Step Up Revolution, which is expected to debut in the low to mid-teens on the strength of young females. The previous three films in the franchise — all distributed by Disney — opened in the $15 million to $20 million range.
Summit is the sole studio now in charge of the Step Up franchise.
Late Wednesday, Summit said it wouldn’t edit out a scene in which a troupe of dancers infiltrate a party sporting gas masks and carrying gas canisters. During last week’s shooting at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, suspect James Holmes wore a gas mask and had gas bombs.
“Summit Entertainment’s Step Up Revolution is an uplifting film that celebrates the redemptive power of dance. There is a brief scene in the film in which a troop of dancers enter a room wearing gas masks as props and the dancers immediately go into a choreographed routine. Because of last week’s tragic events in Colorado, Summit immediately removed television advertising that briefly showcased that scene from the film. The scene also briefly appeared in a trailer released three months ago that the studio is no longer actively servicing,” Summit said in a statement.
“Having taken these steps, Summit will open this inspirational, nonviolent film in theatres nationwide this weekend as originally edited.”
From Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, Dark Knight Rises has done substantial business despite the tragedy, grossing north of $340 million to date worldwide. The tentpole has left some business on the table in the U.S., and box-office observers will be watching to see how the film performs this weekend.
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