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Warner Bros. withholding box office figures for The Dark Knight Rises
Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Saturday, July 21, 2012
Since the rise of the blockbuster, a growing fascination with the opening weekend tally for movies has held sway with the general public. As blockbuster movies continue to shatter weekend forecasts and set new benchmarks for their grosses, so the interest in observing and reporting this news has grown.
In the wake of this weekend's shooting incident at the Aurora theaters, the movie studio behind The Dark Knight Rises has taken the unprecedented move to withhold the opening weekend gross of their film until actual numbers are known on Monday. Early box office estimates have been a part of the regular cycle of news reporting for entertainment outlets like Coming Attractions, so for a major Hollywood studio to do this shows the level of concern for negative public exposure.
Every box office analyst, be they professional or armchair, is predicting that The Dark Knight Rises will open big on its opening weekend. Whether the film breaks the all-time record held by Marvel's The Avengers or bests the opening weekend figure for the last Batman film, The Dark Knight, now Warner Bros. has been placed in the unenviable position of having to distance themselves from the box office grosses. Anything that looks like a celebration of marketing or financial accomplishment will be linked to the Aurora shooting, and the risk of negative PR for the publicly traded corporation is simply far too great to risk.
That's the cold business side of this story, but I also imagine that the people that run Warner Bros. are feeling very emotionally conflicted this weekend. They are trapped between a rock and a hard place, from doing their jobs and promoting The Dark Knight Rises to not coming across as an insensitive, soulless corporation. And the decision to wait until the final ticket sales figures are known on Monday is a wise and sensitive -- as well as difficult -- decision for them to make.