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Overcoming the theater shooting in suburban Denver, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is headed for a record three-day opening north of $160 million at the domestic box office if Sunday traffic holds.
That bests the $158.4 million opening of The Dark Knight and marks the top debut in history for a 2D title. Earlier this summer, 3D tentpole The Avengers opened to $207.4 million, while Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, also released in 3D, opened to $169.2 mllion.
It’s likely that the shooting tragedy took away some amount of business from Dark Knight Rises, which had been pegged to open north of $170 million.
Nevertheless, the Warner Bros. movie still did massive business and marks the third-best opening of all time at the domestic box office for any film. And overall domestic box office revenues were up 24 percent from the same weekend a year ago, fueled by Dark Knight Rises.
Dark Knight Rises — earning a glowing A CinemaScore — returns Christian Bale in the role of the caped crusader and introduces Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cottilard to the franchise.
If there was a noticeable dip in theater traffic on Saturday, it was on the family side, where movies including 20th Century Fox’s Ice Age: Continental Drift saw bigger-than-usual drops. Rough estimates show Ice Age 4 grossing in the $20 million to $21 million range, a notable 55 percent decline from its opening weekend.
There was an unusual silence in Hollywood Sunday morning as studios refrained from officially releasing grosses for Dark Knight Rises and other titles because of the shooting in a suburban Denver multiplex that left at least a dozen dead and dozens injured after suspect James Holmes opened fire during a midnight screening of Dark Knight Rises on Friday.
Across the country, security was increased at theaters, with police patrolling many locations in major metro areas, including Los Angeles and New York.
According to police, Holmes gained entry to the screening with the rest of the crowd. He then propped open an exit door leading to the parking lot so that he could later bring in three weapons from his car, as well as chemical gas.
When arrested, Holmes declared himself to be the Joker.
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