The Dark Knight Rises triumphs at the U.S. box office despite tragedy

Twelve people were killed and 59 injured when gunman James Holmes opened fire in a packed Aurora movie theatre, and experts and movie executives alike feared fans would stay away from cinemas in the wake of the tragedy.

But Batman fans turned out in their droves to give director Christopher Nolan’s movie the third biggest opening in U.S. box office history.

Pre-release audience surveys had indicated that the film would collect up to $200 million (£125 million) at the box office – and rival The Avengers, which debuted at number one in May (12) with a $200.3 million (£125.2 million) opening weekend take – but Friday’s massacre clearly dented the film’s potential.

The Dark Knight Rises has still scored the third-highest debut of all time, behind The Avengers and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – and it’s the biggest opening for a non-3D movie.

Official weekend box office estimates were not made available as is traditional on Sunday (22Jul12) because Hollywood studio executives did not file revenue figures out of respect for the victims of the shooting incident in Colorado.

After scrapping Friday night’s Paris premiere of the film out of respect for the victims of the tragedy, Warner Bros. bosses have since cancelled the remaining red carpet premieres for The Dark Knight Rises in Mexico City and Tokyo.