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Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises opened to a sizeable $160.9 million to nab the third best debut of all time at the domestic box office, and the No. 1 showing for a 2D pic.
But there’s no doubt that the Warner Bros. movie lost some amount of business in the wake of the shooting rampage in Aurora, Colo., during a midnight screening of Dark Knight Rises that left at least a dozen people and dozens more injured.
Insiders put the figure at $10 million to $15 million, although Warners may be able to make up the difference in the weeks ahead based on good worth of mouth. In addition to good reviews, Dark Knight Rises earned a glowing A CinemaScore.
Overseas, Dark Knight Rises grossed a strong $88 million as it opened in 17 markets for a worldwide bow of nearly $249 million. The U.K. placed first with $22.5 million, followed by South Korea with $15.7 million and Australia with $15.5 million.
The movie did impressive business in Imax locations, which turned in $19 million from 332 locations in North America and $4.8 million overseas. Nolan is a big fan of Imax, and shot roughly an hour of Dark Knight Rises with Imax cameras.
Heading into the weekend, most box office observers believed that Nolan’s final Batman pic would gross north of $180 million in North America.. Even conservative estimates had Dark Knight Rises grossing north of $170 million (Legendary Pictures is Warners’ partner on the film).
But considering the might of the tragedy, Hollywood was relieved at the level of business that Dark Knight Rises did.
The movie bested 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.
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.
Box office observers say the most noticeable dip in theater traffic came on the family side, where 20th Century Fox’s Ice Age: Continental Drift saw bigger-than-usual drop, falling 56 percent in its second weekend to $20.4 million for a 10-day cume of $88.8 million.
Out of respect for the victims, Warner Bros. — followed by other studios — refrained from reporting grosses over the weekend.
Across the country, security was increased at theaters following the shooting, with police patrolling many locations in major metro areas, including Los Angeles and New York.
According to police, suspect James 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.
Holmes declared himself to be the Joker to law enforcement theaters.
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