By Tim Briody
July 23, 2012
Four days ago, the question was almost not would The Dark Knight Rises bring the opening weekend record back to the Batman franchise, but by how much. In the four years since The Dark Knight's $158.4 million set the standard, the record had been broken twice, both in the last year. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 took the record with $169.1, million while The Avengers shattered that with $207.4 million in May, giving The Dark Knight Rises quite the bar to leap over.
With reports of sold out midnight showings across the nation, Christopher Nolan's third Batman film seemed a lock to challenge, if not beat, The Avengers, giving us a year with two $200 million opening weekends.
Then, a few hours later, none of that seemed to matter.
For those of us at Box Office Prophets and any other site out there that tracks, discusses and analyzes box office, this weekend put a lot of things in perspective. While every week we discuss movies that collectively earn hundreds of millions of dollars, nothing will ever be more valuable than the lives of the 12 people killed in that horrific and senseless shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the wounded and the families of those who lost their loved ones.
To say the tragedy had an impact on the weekend is the understatement to end all understatments. We often state the importance of the movies as entertainment. They are one of the cheapest forms of escapism, a way to ignore what's going on elsewhere for a few hours for a reasonable cost. But when that safety valve is threatened by a disturbed individual, and with the story occupying the news all day Friday, it became clear that many people chose to simply stay home this weekend. The weekend's numbers validate this, as declines for the holdover films are all high across the board.
The Dark Knight Rises earned $160.8 million for the weekend, a performance that despite the expectations, we will not consider bad or disappointing given the circumstances. The daily breakdown is $75.7 million on Friday (with $30.6 million coming from midnight showings), $44.9 million on Saturday and $40.2 million on Sunday. When you remove the midnight showings from that, The Friday proper take is $45.1 million. For the weekend, that's a 2.88 weekend multiplier, which sounds outstanding considering the size of the film but you need to take into consideration the amount that the midnight shows contributed to that figure and aren't counted in that multiplier calculation. The Dark Knight Rises earned 40.1% of its Friday earnings at midnight. Compare The Avengers, whose Friday was $80.8 million and $18.7 million was credited to midnight box office, where only 23.1% of its Friday tally was taken in at midnight. Since this is a sequel to what was at the time the second most successful film ever, it's quite clear The Dark Knight Rises was on its way to the all-time weekend record before the shooting occupied the news all day on Friday, and causing many to elect to stay home.