'Dark Knight Rises' earns US$160.8mil in debut

LOS ANGELESL Warner Bros said on Monday "The Dark Knight Rises" took in US$160.8 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices over the weekend, which is lower than industry estimates for the debut that felt the impact of last week's movie theater massacre in Colorado.

Before a gunman killed 12 people and wounded 58 at a midnight screening of the movie early on Friday in a Denver suburb, "Dark Knight Rises" had been forecast by some box office watchers to bring in anywhere from $170 million to $198 million.

The alleged shooter, James Eagan Holmes, 24, made his first court appearance in Colorado on Monday, one day after President Barack Obama visited the scene to grieve with the victims' families. Criminal charges are expected to be filed next week.

Despite ticket sales coming in lower than the range of estimates, the movie's U.S. and Canadian box office debut remains among Hollywood's biggest openings ever, and the film appears poised to be a financial success.

The $160.8 million ranks it No. 3 on the list of top 3-day opening weekends behind No. 1 "The Avengers" at $207 million and No. 2 "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part II," which earned $169 million. "Dark Knight Rises" beat the debut of its 2008 predecessor "The Dark Knight," which opened with $158 million on its way to a total domestic haul of $533 million.

The 2008 "Dark Knight" pulled in $468 million overseas, putting its global haul above $1 billion. The movie's performance overseas will not be clear until it opens in more countries.

Box office watchers said it was hard to guess how much the movie might have made in the United States and Canada if the massacre had not happened.

"Before the weekend, I figured it would earn around $170 million, and the fact it still earned over $160 million in the wake of the tragedy is very impressive," said Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com Box Office. "Never did I think it could earn over $200 million or challenge 'The Avengers' which was 3D."

Indeed, even before the weekend, some analysts had expected it would be difficult for "Dark Knight Rises" to reach the lofty heights others had predicted because it did not open in a 3D version, for which theaters charge higher ticket prices.

Elsewhere in U.S. and Canadian theaters, "Ice Age: Continental Drift" in 3D took in $20.4 million in its second week in theaters to rank No. 2 on ticket charts. Its domestic total now stands at $88 million. "The Amazing Spider-Man," also in 3D, was No. 3 with $10.8 million, which elevated its total to $228 million after roughly three weeks in theaters. - Reuters

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