Weekend Wrap-Up

Audience for The Dark Knight Fails To Rise

By John Hamann

July 29, 2012

I just met you, and this is crazy...

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After last weekend, one of the more tumultuous in box office history, studios and theaters are left picking up the pieces. Last weekend's shootings continue to haunt business at the box office, hurting The Dark Knight Rises most of all, but also causing a variety of impacts on the rest of the films in the top 12. The tragedy of last Friday isn't the only thing dragging down the box office. We are dealing with the opening of the Summer Olympics plus the release of two highly questionable openers in the form of The Watch and Step Up Revolution.

The release of The Dark Knight Rises was supposed to go much differently. This tentpole should have put a sail on our movie boat and we were going to float past the Olympics into what looked to be an okay August, with Total Recall, The Bourne Legacy and The Odd Life of Timothy Green populating the eighth month. Instead, because of one deranged nutjob, the performance of The Dark Knight Rises is in complete chaos and the box office overall is stumbling. The opening of The Dark Knight Rises failed to show the serious cracks in the audience base following the tragedy, as the new phenomenon of advanced ticket sales kept the opening weekend from completely falling apart.

Box office analysts could see the cracks as of last Saturday morning. The Friday gross for The Dark Knight Rises was estimated at $80-90 million, a number that proved to be wrong. The actual Friday revenue was $75.8 million (including $30.6 million in midnight grosses – really the only "true" number we will ever have for The Dark Knight Rises).


To look at the second weekend for The Dark Knight Rises, we need to understand the Friday number, which is really $45.2 million once the midnights are removed. The second film in the series, The Dark Knight, earned $18.5 million from its midnight screenings, and $67.2 million on its first day. Subtracting the $18.5 million gives a true Friday gross of $48.7 million, which means The Dark Knight earned more than The Dark Knight Rises on its first Friday. For a box office nerd, this is just plain wrong – more than a glitch in The Matrix or a wobbly top in Inception. It's madness.

The $160.9 million opening weekend hid the insanity, but Saturday and Sunday were down compared to the second film in the franchise. Other than that first bizarro Thursday/Friday, where The Dark Knight Rises beat The Dark Knight. I find ironic the fact that a movie franchise about facing our fears is showing us that we have a hell of a time living up to that notion. Don't believe the media that tells you that there is nothing wrong in movieland. Box office revenue is improving in the rest of the top ten, but if you're The Dark Knight Rises, these are dark times.

Getting back to the numbers, remember that last weekend, The Dark Knight Rises had a $45.2 million Friday once those midnights were removed. This Friday, The Dark Knight Rises grossed $18.1 million, giving it a drop of 60% once we factor out midnight sneaks. The number is a much more alarming 70% if we include them.

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