Following months of speculation, with a bizare and terrible last-minute twist, Christopher Nolan's new Batman film The Dark Knight Rises appears to be headed for a $170 million opening weekend, down nearly $50 million from Thursday's projections. It will still rank as the highest-ever opening weekend for a non-3D movie.
If current trends hold, The Dark Knight Rises will also make more than $100 million more than the rest of the week's top ten movies combined.
Deadline reports that the film made $77.2 million on Friday, compared to the $80 million that The Avengers made in its opening day back at the beginning of May. Even coming that close was a result in part of massive midnight sales that beat out The Avengers by a wide margin. Much of the day's business may have come from prepaid ticketing, as early tracking in the afternoon had the movie on pace to make between $80 million and $85 million on Friday, which would have seen it equal or exceed The Avengers' record-breaking opening day. That may stand to reason, since prepaid tickets would be less likely to be subject to a last-minute change of heart following the theater shooting that dominated the news yesterday.
It appears from reading the Deadline article that the conventional wisdom is going to be that Friday morning's shooting in Aurora has had a measurable impact on the film's weekend box office. Whether it will impact the movie's long-term financial prospects remains to be seen. While nobody wants to diminish the tragedy by talking about the money, the big-picture ramifications of a disappointing performance by The Dark Knight Rises loom large following a summer where nearly every major film underperformed at an anemic box office.