‘Dark Knight Rises’ Weekend Sales Total $160.9 Million

Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight Rises” posted weekend ticket sales of $160.9 million in the U.S. and Canada, below projections made before 12 people died in a shooting at a midnight screening in Aurora, Colorado.

Warner Bros., based in Burbank, California, announced the total yesterday in an e-mail. The studio had withheld weekend box-office figures, citing concern for the victims of the July 20 shooting rampage and their families, and curtailed its promotion of the picture.

“I think they followed a smart strategy,” said Howard Suber, a founding director of the University of California Los Angeles’ film and TV producers program. “The basic thing to do in a situation like this is to shut up. It’s like the presidential candidates had to give up campaigning for the weekend. Nobody wanted to hear them.”

The sales still place the picture among the top weekend openings ever, according to Box Office Mojo, an online researcher tracking ticket sales. The 2008 film “The Dark Knight,” with $158.4 million in opening-weekend sales, was ranked third after “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the site says.

Before the July 20 violence at the Cinemark Holdings Inc. (CNK) theater, the film was expected to generate $170 million to $198 million in its first three days, the estimates of researchers Fizziology and Boxoffice.com.

Sales on Saturday, July 21, fell 41 percent from Friday. Such a decline isn’t uncommon for highly anticipated films that open with midnight showings, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com Box-Office.

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“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” the final film in the Potter franchise, dropped 53 percent from Friday to Saturday, Dergarabedian said.

James Holmes, 24, was arrested near the cinema after the shootings, and was held on suspicion of first-degree murder.

Before a packed courtroom in Colorado District Court in Centennial, a suburb of Denver, Judge William Sylvester yesterday advised Holmes of his rights and set a July 30 hearing for formal charges. Clad in red prison clothing and with his hair dyed orange, Holmes sat in the jury box with a defense lawyer, blinking often while occasionally staring at his hands.

The shooter in Aurora wore a gas mask, similar to a mask worn by the villain Bane in the film, and tossed tear gas into the auditorium before opening fire at 12:30 a.m., according to witnesses.

Warner Bros. (TWX) said yesterday that it made an unspecified donation to a fund that will aid surviving victims of the shooting and family members of the 12 who were killed.

The studio worked with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to identify the Community First Foundation’s Aurora Victim Relief Fund, according to Susan Fleishman, a spokeswoman.

Time Warner Inc., parent of Warner Bros., fell 3.5 percent to $37.49 yesterday in New York, the biggest drop since Nov. 9. The stock has gained 3.7 percent so far this year.

                       Rev.           Avg./    Pct.    Total
Movie                 (mln) Theaters  Theater  Chg.    (mln) Wks
================================================================
 1 DARK KNIGHT RISES $160.9  4,404  $36,532    --   $160.9    1
 2 ICE AGE             20.4  3,886    5,254   -56     88.8    2
 3 AMAZING SPIDER MAN  10.9  3,753    2,901   -69    228.6    3
 4 TED                 10.0  3,214    3,115   -55    180.4    4
 5 BRAVE (3-D/ANIMATED) 6.0  2,899    2,078   -46    208.8    5
 6 MAGIC MIKE           4.3  2,606    1,647   -52    102.0    4
 7 SAVAGES              3.4  2,336    1,455   -64     40.1    3
 8 TYLER PERRY’S MADEA  2.3  1,540    1,463   -60     60.3    4
 9 MOONRISE KINGDOM     1.8    895    2,046   -51     36.1    9
10 TO ROME WITH LOVE    1.4    552    2,574   -42     11.1    5
11 MADAGASCAR 3         1.4  1,261    1,071   -63    207.6    7
12 KATY PERRY           1.1  1,123    1,023   -70     22.6    3


Top 12 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $223.9        $181.3       +23


Year-to-date Revenue

     2012          2011
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $6,366        $5,964      +6.7

Year-to-date Attendance:     +9.2%

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net; Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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