“The Dark Knight Rises” stayed on top of the box office for a second week, grossing $64 million and bringing its domestic total to $289 million. However, it was still a weak showing at the movies which saw the start of the Olympics, anxieties over the Colorado shooting appear remaining strong, and two new releases (“The Watch” and “Step Up Revolution”) stumbling in their debuts. But perhaps certain people are misreading why the new movies didn’t do well and why “The Dark Knight Rises” suffered such a steep drop in attendance.
“The Dark Knight Rises” saw a 60 percent drop from its debut weekend. Now typically movies like these suffer steep drops after their opening weekends, but analysts pointed out that it was even steeper than “The Dark Knight” which saw a 53 percent drop in its second week. This also seems especially steep when compared to “The Avengers” which dropped 50 percent in its second week, and “The Amazing Spider-Man” which declined by only 44 percent.
Many are saying this is due to audience anxiety over the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, but “The Avengers” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” didn’t have to deal with that or the Olympics which are now underway. The opening ceremony on July 27 had over 28 million people watching it on television, so perhaps analysts are overreacting to the performance of Christopher Nolan’s final Batman movie.
This week’s new releases also dealt with unfortunate coincidences; “The Watch” starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn was originally titled “Neighborhood Watch,” but that changed after the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin. Never minding that director Akiva Schaffer started filming the movie back in October 2011 long before that tragedy occurred, 20th Century Fox was intent on not appearing insensitive to the real life tragedy. However, “The Watch” ended up grossing only $13 million, and audiences gave it a score of a C+ which indicates indifference more than anything else.
“Step Up Revolution” on the other hand saw its filmmakers refusing to edit out a scene which some say eerily echoed the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting. That scene had dancers storming their way into a room wearing gas masks and police vests while holding gas canisters. Summit Entertainment, which released this sequel, did remove moments of that scene from television advertisements, but they chose not to edit the scene out of the movie.
“Step Up Revolution” ended up making only $11.8 million and has been mostly panned by film critics (its current Rotten Tomatoes score is 33 percent). It’s unlikely that removing the scene would have made much of a difference as many did not see that movie making too much of an impact in its release. Perhaps this is a franchise which has overstayed its welcome; Disney ended up selling the rights to it to Summit Entertainment, so perhaps they knew when the right time to stop was.
We may have to wait another couple of weeks to see if the tragedy in Colorado had as big an effect on the box office as people say it did. Right now however, it looks to have more of an effect on future movie releases as Warner Brothers postponed the release of “Gangster Squad” starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn from September 2012 to January 2013. With “The Dark Knight Rises” one the verge of reaching the $300 million mark, it’s clear that people have not stopped going to the movies.