Box Office Report: Friday Moviegoing Sluggish as 'Dark Knight Rises' Trounces 'The Watch,' 'Step Up'

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

Dark Knight Rises Alfred with Bruce Wayne Still - H 2012

Hollywood studios are on edge in the wake of last week's Colorado theater shooting; research firm NRG shows that 20-25 percent of the moviegoing audience is hesitant to see a movie this weekend because of the tragedy.

Dance pic Step Up: Revolution and Ben Stiller-Vince Vaughn alien comedy The Watch are proving no match for The Dark Knight Rises, even as moviegoing is subdued overall in the wake of the Colorado theater massacre.

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Early estimates show Dark Knight Rises, from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, grossing in the $19 million range on Friday for a second weekend gross of $62 million to $64 million, down from the $75.2 million earned by 2008's The Dark Knight in its second weekend of play at the domestic box office.

Research firm NRG, which collects tracking data for studios, estimates that 20 to 25 percent of the moviegoing audience is reluctant to see a movie this weekend because of the tragedy.

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After Dark Knight Rises, 20th Century Fox's R-rated comedy The Watch and Summit Entertainment's Step Up: Revolution could find themselves in a close race for the No. 2 spot at the domestic box office.

The Watch, performing on the softer side considering its star power, is looking to gross $5 million to $6 million on Friday for a weekend debut of $15 million to $17 million. The pic stars Stiller and Vaughn opposite Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade.

The comedy was originally titled Neighborhood Watch but Fox changed the title -- as well as some marketing materials -- after the fatal shooting of Travyon Martin by a neighborhood watch captain in Florida.

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Step Up: Revolution, the fourth outing in the dance series, is likewise on track to earn $5 million to $6 million on Friday, give or take, for a weekend gross in the $15 million to $16 million range. Summit has taken over the franchise from Disney, which released the previous three films in the series (the last film opened to $15.8 million).

There's no denying that Christopher Nolan's final Batman is doing huge business -- Dark Knight Rises has grossed north of $225 million domesetically in less than a week -- but there's also little doubt that the movie has lost business because of the shooting that left a dozen dead and 58 injured after suspect James Holmes allegedly opened fire during a midnight screening of the film in Aurora, Colo.

Overseas, Dark Knight Rises has grossed nearly $150 million from a relatively small number of countries, indicating that foreign audiences aren't as impacted by the shooting. The pic's worldwide total is now $374 million.