According to Entertainment Weekly, Warner Brothers has announced that they will not make opening weekend box office numbers for The Dark Knight Rises available this weekend, saying that to do so would be disrespectful to the victims of yesterday’s attack in Colorado.
“Out of respect for the victims and their families,” says the statement, “Warner Bros. Pictures will not be reporting box office numbers for The Dark Knight Rises throughout the weekend. Box office numbers will be released on Monday.”
It’s routine for major-studio films, especially big tentpole movies like The Dark Knight Rises, to report their box office numbers daily, giving the press and presumably their investors an idea for how well or poorly a film is faring. There is some concern that turnout will be depressed following the shooting, which Warner will likely need time to process and respond to–and if it doesn’t happen, a cheering section dedicated to spreading the good news all weekend long wouldn’t particularly set the right tone.
The film is expected to make in excess of $150 million this weekend and at one point was predicted to break The Avengers‘ record for the highest opening-weekend gross of any film in history. Entertainment Weekly points out that it’s unlikely the numbers will actually remain secret, as other studios will have at least a pretty good idea of the film’s box office take. That said, other studios may go along with Warner’s decision to walk softly–and even if they don’t, it’s not uncommon for rival studios to lowball earnings estimates for a major film.
It’s unlikely, then, that many news outlets will be covering whatever numbers emerge very seriously and, unlike The Avengers, that means we won’t have a weekend of box office stories helping to build hype. Coupled with the earlier decision to cancel publicity appearances by the cast and crew, and to pull TV ads for the film, it seems as though Warner is willing to take a small hit on The Dark Knight Rises‘ opening-weekend take in order to stay ahead of the potential bad publicity associated with a tragedy on this scale being associated with one of their films.