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COLOGNE, Germany – Cinemas in several countries around the world have tightened security measures ahead of local screenings of Warner Bros. The Dark Knight Rises after last week’s theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado.
Cristopher Nolan‘s superhero epic makes another big international push this week, opening in an additional 40 countries, including France, Germany, Russia and Japan. Last weekend, the film grossed a stellar $88 million from 17 territories despite the tragic event, including $22.5 million in the U.K., $15.7 million in Korea, $15.5 million in Australia and $4.3 million in Spain.
Operators of some of the largest multiplex chains in Germany, including CinemaxX, UCI-Kinowelt and Cineplex, have all said they will be boosting security measures and putting personnel on alert ahead of the film’s permiere here on Thursday. A spokesman for UCI, which operates 20 multiplex theaters across the country, said the chain was asking visitors not to wear costumes or masks to the Dark Knight screenings. CinemaxX said it would be positioning security staff in full view in cinema lobbies to reassure visitors.
The violence at the midnight screening of Dark Knight Rises also has heated up an ongoing debate in Germany about cinema violence. The country’s Family Minister this week put forward a proposal to tighten cinema certification rules and ban parents from bringing their young children into violent films.
The shooting in Aurora shooting has not impacted any release plans for Dark Knight Rises release. However, Warners cancelled the film’s planned premiere in Paris last Friday as well as all press interviews with director Nolan and the film’s stars Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
A public screening, however, went on as planned at Paris’ Le Grand Rex theater. French fans came out in force, many in costume, and packed the sold-out 2,700 seat theater. Some left flowers for the victims of the shooting next to French and American flags at the venue.
Similarily, Warners also ccancelled planned premieres in Japan and Mexico out of consideration for the Aurora victims.
Alexei Ryazantsev, general director of Dark Knight’s Russian distributor Karo Premiere, said there would be a focus on security issues following the Colorado shooting but that a similar incident in Russia is highly unlikely.
“I think that the exhibition of The Dark Knight Rises is going to run without any problems,” Ryazantsev, told wire service RIA Novosti, noting that currently there is a ban on firearms in Russia (although a new law has been drafted to ease possession of guns for self-defense). Karo, which also runs a theater chain, was the first theater company in Russia to install metal detectors at entrances to its theaters several years ago. Metal detectors are now common in Russian multiplexes, particularly ones located in malls.
The Dark Knight Rises opened to $160.9 million in its opening weekend domestically, a record for 2D release but below the initial forecasts of between $170 million – $180 million many box office observers had predicted before the shooting incident.
Stuart Kemp in London, Vladimir Kozlov in Moscow and Rebecca Leffler contributed to this report.
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