‘Dark Knight Rises’ will win at box office, but some may avoid it

While two new movies will open Friday, all eyes will be on the second weekend performance of “The Dark Knight Rises,” which will be dampened in part by moviegoer reluctance to go to the multiplex after last week’s massacre in a Colorado theater.

The final installment in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, however, will again dominate the box office, though box-office experts believe some moviegoers will steer clear of theaters after last Friday’s mass shootings at a post-midnight screening of “Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo.

A poll taken by a major Hollywood market research firm showed that on Monday, 25% of moviegoers were reluctant to head to theaters but that number had declined to 20% by Thursday.

That is likely to affect the grosses of “Dark Knight” and all other current releases.

After opening with a massive $160.9 million last weekend in the wake of the tragedy, “The Dark Knight Rises” is expected to take in an additional $65 million to $70 million this round, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys.


That would amount to a ticket sales drop of roughly 58% from the film’s opening weekend -- a steeper decline than the 53% falloff that “The Dark Knight” saw during its second weekend in 2008. After six days in theaters, “The Dark Knight” had grossed $222.2 million, while “The Dark Knight Rises” has collected a lesser $211.8 million during the same time frame.

If the current movie winds up grossing less than the 2008 release, that would be a disappointment for Warner Bros. and the film’s financial partner Legendary Pictures.

However, the new movie starring Christian Bale as the superhero has a good shot of collecting more abroad than the previous entry in the series. So far, the movie has sold $125.3 million worth of tickets internationally from 17 foreign markets, and will open in 40 additional locations overseas this weekend.

Meanwhile, two new films hitting theaters in the U.S. and Canada aren’t expected to present much competition to “The Dark Knight Rises.” “The Watch,” an R-rated comedy starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill will likely start off with a so-so $20 million to $25 million. And the fourth film in the “Step Up” dance series looks to open with around $13 million, which would mark the lowest debut yet in the franchise.

The press campaign for “The Watch” got off to a bad start earlier this year, when the release of marketing materials for the film -- then titled “Neighborhood Watch” -- coincided with the death of Trayvon Martin. Worried that the movie would be wrongly associated with the Feb. 26 death of the 17-year old Martin at the hands of a neighborhood-watch volunteer, 20th Century Fox in May changed the film’s title.

The $68-million production, about a group of men who start their own neighborhood watch and must battle aliens, has received dismal critical reviews. On Thursday, it had notched a 13% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared with a 24% fresh rating for “Step Up Revolution.”

Though the 3-D “Step Up Revolution” doesn’t seem likely to break any domestic ticket sales records, the franchise has gained an increasing popularity overseas since its inception. The last movie in the series, 2010’s “Step Up 3-D,” grossed $116.9 million internationally, accounting for roughly 73% of its worldwide gross.

The previous three “Step Up” movies were co-financed by Walt Disney Studios and Summit Entertainment, but this film is the first to be financed entirely by Summit. The studio, which was acquired by Lionsgate this past winter, spent about $33 million to produce “Step Up Revolution.”


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Follow Amy Kaufman on Twitter @AmyKinLA


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