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THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Box Office: Why Sharp Friday Drop?

Marion Cotillard The Dark Knight Rises Miranda TateThe Dark Knight Rises box office down sharply on Friday. (Image: Marion Cotillard Miranda Tate.) In late July 2008, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight was down -65.5 percent on its second Friday out and -52.5 percent on its second weekend, collecting $75.16 million from Fri-Sun. On its second Friday out, The Dark Knight Rises plummeted 76 percent, and should earn around $55-58 million (about $8-12 million less than late-night Friday estimates indicated) over the weekend.

Taking the lowest figure, that would represent a -65.5 percent weekend-to-weekend tumble. Why the sharp drop? The Colorado shooting? The London Olympics? Both?

First of all, remember that The Dark Knight Rises' $75.75 million take on Friday, July 20, included a record-breaking (for a 2D movie) $30.6 million from Thursday midnight screenings. Excluding the midnight shows, TDKR would be down a still steep but considerably less dramatic -60 percent on its second Friday out. [See also: The Dark Knight Rises midnight box office record.]

For comparison's sake: The Dark Knight earned a much more modest $18.1 million from midnight shows. Deducting that amount, Nolan's "Batman 2" movie was down -47 percent. Now, bear in mind that The Dark Knight faced no competition from the Beijing Olympics on it second weekend out. The 2008 Olympics kicked off on August 8 – the film's fourth weekend – and at a less convenient time zone for American and Canadian television watchers.

The Dark Knight Rises $300m milestone on Tuesday

At this stage, it looks like The Dark Knight Rises will pass the $300m milestone at the domestic box office only on Tuesday, Day 12 – one day later than early Friday estimates indicated. The Avengers, with the assistance of 3D surcharges, reached that milestone in nine days; The Dark Knight, at fewer (costlier) IMAX theaters and not taking inflation into account, reached that mark in ten days.

Not taking inflation into account, the next three movies on the "fastest to $300m chart" are Michael Bay / Shia LaBeouf / Megan Fox's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 14 days, James Cameron / Sam Worthington / Sigourney Weaver's Avatar in 15 days, and David Yates / Daniel Radcliffe / Ralph Fiennes' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 also in 15 days. [See also: The Dark Knight Rises Box Office: $200m After Six Days.]

Last weekend, The Dark Knight Rises grossed $160.88 million at 4,404 North American theaters, officially breaking the record for the biggest opening weekend for a 2D release. But when it comes to ticket sales, TDKR clearly trailed The Dark Knight, which scored $158.41 million in summer 2008 – or approximately $174.7 million today. Now The Dark Knight Rises is trailing The Dark Knight both in ticket sales and unadjusted grosses. After eight days, The Dark Knight had raked in $261.84 million vs. The Dark Knight Rises' estimated $243.01m.

Undeniably, TDKR's opening-weekend box office take fell below expectations because of the Colorado shooting. At a Friday midnight screening in the Denver suburb of Aurora, a mad gunman killed 12 people and injured nearly 60 others. [See also: Christopher Nolan statement on behalf of The Dark Knight Rises' cast and crew, and Christian Bale statement and Anne Hathaway statement regarding the shooting.]

The Dark Knight Rises box office: Colorado shooting effect?

This weekend, especially regarding the steep Friday tumble, I still believe it would be precipitated to claim that the Colorado massacre was the reason – or even the chief reason – for the box office drop. There was/is strong competition from the Olympics and The Dark Knight Rises has failed to match the overwhelming acclaim of its predecessor. Nolan's "Batman 3" movie currently has a 77 percent approval rating and 7.9/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics vs. a 91 percent approval rating and (a, admittedly, only slightly higher) 8.0/10 average for "Batman 2."

I could be wrong, of course, as there are reports that approximately one in five potential moviegoers is reluctant to return to movie theaters this weekend. How trustworthy those surveys are, however, is highly debatable.

Not including marketing / distribution expenses, The Dark Knight Rises reportedly cost $250m; The Dark Knight $185m.

Directed and co-written by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises stars Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, and Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Morgan Freeman. Jonathan Nolan co-wrote the screenplay, inspired by Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

"THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Box Office: Sharp Friday Drop?" / Marion Cotillard Miranda Tate picture: Ron Phillips / Warner Bros.

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3 Comments to THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Box Office: Why Sharp Friday Drop?

  1. Greenlite

    It's 87% overall on RT

  2. There is virtually no doubt in my mind that the shootings are the primary factor behind the precipitous drop in box-office. I don't think it has kept hardcore moviegoers away, but more casual moviegoers seem to have opted to find a different way to spend their time.

    The result of this, I think, is that overall box-office is about to go into a major decline over the course of the next few months. It won't come out of that slump until "Skyfall" and "Breaking Dawn Part 2" come out in November. If THOSE titles underperform to any serious degree, then the entire industry is in trouble.

  3. jeff

    Dark knight had joker. Also heath ledger died


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