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"Dark Knight Rises" wins sluggish post-shooting box office

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" earned nearly $64.1 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters during its second weekend, leading a slumping box office following a fatal shooting at a Colorado movie theater.
/ Source: Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" earned nearly $64.1 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters during its second weekend, leading a slumping box office following a fatal shooting at a Colorado movie theater.

The finale in a Batman trilogy starring Christian Bale added $122.1 million from international markets and has pulled in $248.2 million around the world since its July 20 debut, distributor Warner Bros. said.

Sales in the North American (U.S. and Canadian) market dropped 60 percent from its debut a week earlier, a bigger decline than 2008 predecessor "The Dark Knight" or this year's other superhero films.

"Dark Knight" fell 53 percent during its second weekend to earn $75 million domestically, according to "The Avengers" slipped 50 percent from its debut in May, and June release "The Amazing Spider-Man" declined 44 percent.

While "Dark Knight Rises" ranks as one of the year's highest-grossing movies, sales are weaker than pre-release forecasts after the opening was overshadowed by the killing of 12 moviegoers at a midnight screening of the film in Aurora, Colorado.

Through Sunday, total "Dark Knight Rises" sales in North America ran behind "The Dark Knight," which hauled in $313.8 million domestically through its first two weekends.

Turnout for the Batman film and other movies likely suffered from some moviegoer reluctance following the Colorado shooting, as well as the beginning of the London Olympics on Friday.

"It's been a double dose of things," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office. "The Olympics has been dominating media coverage lately and probably kept a lot of people home Friday night, and then there's the Aurora shooting."

He noted that lackluster reviews for this weekend's new features likely further dampened theater attendance, but predicts that next weekend will see a resurgence.

"There will be a bit more distance from the Aurora shooting, the Olympics will become routine, and there's some really exciting films coming out," Dergarabedian said, mentioning upcoming releases "Total Recall" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."

President of theatrical distribution for Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc, was unavailable for comment.

Overall ticket sales for the weekend came in 25 percent lower than the same weekend a year ago, according to the box office division of

The No. 2 spot belonged to animated children's movie "Ice Age: Continental Drift," with $13.3 million. It beat out comedy "The Watch" and dance movie "Step Up Revolution," both of which made their theater debuts this weekend.

"The Watch" came in third place, earning $13 million at domestic theaters. The film stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill as men who start a neighborhood watch group and go to battle with aliens. The movie earned largely negative reviews, with just 14 percent of critics praising the film on website Rotten Tomatoes.

"The Watch" also was affected by real-life events. In May, 20th Century Fox changed the movie's title from "Neighborhood Watch," a move to distance it from the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

Ahead of the weekend, Fox saw the $68 million production pulling in $13 million to $15 million.

"We didn't really know what to expect," said executive vice president for domestic distribution at Fox Chris Aronson, speaking on the box office climate post-shooting. "It's a wild card weekend for sure."

Though "The Watch" finished on the lower side of expectations, Aronson said that he "hopes for a bounceback in the overall marketplace," which he predicted would benefit all films.

"Step Up Revolution" finished in fourth place with $11.8 million domestically. The movie about a group of flash-mob dancers in Miami is the fourth in a franchise that has grossed more than $400 million around the world.

Distributor Summit Entertainment had forecast a domestic opening in the low- to mid-teens for "Step Up Revolution."

The No. 5 spot went to "Ted," which netted just shy of $7.4 million.

"Step Up Revolution" was released by Summit Entertainment, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment. "The Watch" and "Ice Age" were released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.. Sony Corp's movie division distributed "Spider-Man."

(Reporting By Lisa Richwine and Andrea Burzynski)