Fans packed movie theaters across the country over the weekend to see The Dark Knight Rises, propelling the third installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy to a record opening despite Friday's mass killing during a screening in Colorado, which many expected to dampen enthusiasm more significantly. Movie studios held back their usual box-office reports out of respect for the victims, but unofficial projections suggest the final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy grossed about $162 million domestically in its first weekend. If confirmed, that figure will give the movie the biggest debut ever for a 2D film, and the third biggest overall, behind 3D blockbusters The Avengers and the final Harry Potter movie. Warner Bros., the studio behind The Dark Knight Rises, decided against canceling domestic screenings in the wake of the tragedy, but called off most of its debut weekend publicity blitz, including TV ads, promotional appearances by the film's stars, and premieres in Paris, Mexico City, and Tokyo. Was Warner Bros. right to mute the hype but let the show go on?
Warner Bros. wisely let moviegoers make their own minds: Beefing up security, as many theaters did, and canceling press events showed "common decency and empathy for the victims, their families, and a shaken nation," says Jen Yamato at Movie Line. But ultimately, it's up to fans to decide whether to let the fear and memory of the tragedy keep them out of the multiplex.
"Talkback: Should Warner Bros. cancel The Dark Knight Rises screenings?"
Warner Bros. had no choice: Though it's been reported that executives seriously considered shutting down screenings across the country, says Mark Lacter at L.A. Observed, "just the mechanics of such a move are daunting, if not altogether impossible," given the massive financial investment and the 4,400-theater release plans. "Given the dollars involved, the whole idea seemed a little far-fetched."
"Report: Warner Bros. may cancel Dark Knight screenings"
The show must go on... but not at midnight: The show "must — or, at any rate, will — go on," says Anthony Lane at The New Yorker. But, for reasons of security, it would be a good idea to, at least, suspend midnight screenings like the one in Aurora that ended abruptly in a spray of gunfire. "Those screenings, starting when most people are in bed, often have a crazed and hallucinated air." That's part of the attraction, of course, but right now that "seems volatile, ominous, and redundant."
"A shooting in a movie theater"
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