All eyes were on The Dark Knight Rises this past weekend, to see how its second weekend at the box office would perform in the aftermath of the tragic movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo. Early Monday morning estimates show that the film will come in at $62.84 million (a 61 percent drop), a bit lower than Sunday’s estimate of $64.075 million (a 60 percent drop). The question is: Is this a bigger than normal drop-off? Yes and no. If we take a look at some of the biggest opening weekends of all-time and their second weekend drop-offs, The Dark Knight Rises is right there in the average range for films that open with over $140 million. In fact, a 70 percent drop is not that uncommon for films that open in the rarefied air of the top openers of all-time. Just look at the following data:
However, everyone was looking to compare The Dark Knight Rises to its 2008 predecessor, The Dark Knight, which benefited from unusually strong word-of-mouth and, of course, did not have to deal with the negative after-effects of an unforeseen tragedy (tragic as it was, the brilliant Heath Ledger’s untimely passing only served to enhance The Dark Knight ’s mystique). If anything hurt the numbers for all movies this weekend, it was Friday night’s opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, which drew a record-setting 40.7 million viewers in the United States. It makes sense that if that many people are glued to their TV sets, they are not in movie theaters. Keep in mind that the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics started on the fourth weekend of The Dark Knight's release and did not have a profound effect on that film’s performance, which by that time had earned over $400 million in North America.
Questions remain: Had the Olympics opened on a different date, had the tragic shootings not occurred, had The Watch and Step Up Revolution held a greater allure for moviegoers, would this would have been a much stronger weekend in movie theaters and not down 25 percent from the comparable weekend a year ago? The answer is a resounding yes, but given the incredible confluence of events and circumstances over the past week and a half, the performance of The Dark Knight Rises is more than respectable and, let’s face it in the larger scheme of things: not all that important.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]