In the wake of the tragic movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., "The Dark Knight Rises" performed strongly at the box office during its opening weekend, although below earlier projections.
Sources in Hollywood estimated that the final installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy grossed around $160 million upon its debut. Before the tragedy, pre-release audience surveys had indicated that the film would likely collect between $180 million and $200 million during its first weekend in theaters.
Still, the movie's opening weekend take is the third-highest ever — not adjusting for inflation — behind only two 3-D films, "The Avengers" and the final entry in the "Harry Potter" series. In 2008, "The Dark Knight" debuted with $158 million and went on to become one of 12 films to gross over $1 billion worldwide.
Official weekend estimates were not made available Sunday because Warner Bros. and other major Hollywood studios did not release box office revenue figures out of respect for those involved in the shootings. The company that gathers box office data, Rentrak, also did not report weekend numbers.
As such, international grosses were also not released, and overseas ticket sales will be the true indication of the movie's ultimate financial success. On Friday, Warner Bros. said it would cancel the remaining red carpet premieres for "The Dark Knight Rises" abroad, which were to take place in Paris, Mexico City and Tokyo.
It is unclear how much Friday's events in Colorado affected opening weekend receipts for "The Dark Knight Rises." A number of moviegoers purchased their tickets to the film in advance of the weekend, though a handful of theater chains said they would honor buyer requests for refunds.
It does not appear that many cinema chains canceled screenings of "Dark Knight" this weekend, though a number of theater owners vowed to ramp up security at their locations in response to the shootings.
Those who saw the $250-million-plus production starring Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader loved it, assigning it an average grade of A. It remains to be seen if that strong word-of-mouth will convince those who stayed out of the theater this weekend to see the movie in the coming weeks.