By Russ Britt, MarketWatch
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch)--"The Dark Knight Rises" turned in $160.9 million in domestic box-office receipts during its debut weekend, Warner Bros. Pictures said Monday, but fell short of some analysts' expectations after last week's massacre at a Colorado movie theater.
Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc. (TWX), had put off announcing the results in the wake of the shootings in Aurora, Colo., which left 12 dead and 58 injured when a gunman opened fire at a midnight screening of "Dark Knight Rises" early Friday.
Warner, which usually reports preliminary results on Sunday along with other studios, held off until Monday out of respect for the shooting victims. Other major studios followed suit.
Warner also delayed reporting its results until well after the closing bell on Wall Street, long after other studios had submitted their numbers.
The box-office take for "Dark Knight Rises" set a new record for 2-D films, which was set previously by the last installment in the Batman series, "The Dark Knight," Hollywood.com reported Monday. Released in 2008, that "Dark Knight" film took in $158.4 million during its first weekend.
Among all films, "Dark Knight Rises" came in third, behind Walt Disney Co.'s (DIS) "The Avengers," which set the standard earlier this year at $207.4 million, and last year's entry from Warner Bros., "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II," at $169.2 million, according to Hollywood.com. Both those films benefited from more lucrative 3-D showings.
Some analysts had expected "Dark Knight Rises" to beat the numbers it turned in. A few had predicted it could break the record of "The Avengers," though that would have been a tall order since "Dark Knight Rises" couldn't benefit from higher 3-D ticket prices.
The Colorado attack appears to at least have kept some theatergoers from trekking to the cineplex this past weekend to see the third film in the Batman trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan. The first was "Batman Begins," released in 2005. Many analysts put the "Dark Knight Rises" take at $170 million to $195 million.
Still, "Dark Knight Rises" beat out second-place finisher "Ice Age: Continental Drift" by a wide margin, as expected. The fourth installment in the "Ice Age" series made $20.4 million for a cumulative $88.8 million. The animated feature is a release from Twentieth Century Fox, a unit of News Corp. (NWSA) (NWS) (News Corp. also owns MarketWatch, publisher of this report.)
On the whole, "Dark Knight Rises" pushed the industry's total to just past the $230 million mark, nearly 21% higher than the same weekend a year ago.
-Russ Britt; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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