Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” released this weekend with high hopes from analysts about its opening weekend box office gross. Although conservative estimates had the film making $170 million in box office take, many analysts estimated it could make as much as $198 million or more, putting it within striking distance of the record-breaking opening weekend of “The Avengers.” Unfortunately, even after taking in $30 million during midnight releases, “The Dark Knight Rises” did not meet the threshold analysts expected, taking in $160.8 million in box office gross according to Box Office Mojo. Although $160.8 million is nothing to sneeze at (“The Dark Knight Rises” currently holds the third highest-grossing opening weekend of all time), the film definitely performed well below estimates. By comparison, “The Avengers'” opening weekend took in $207 million, while “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” made $169 million in box office gross during its weekend debut. Nolan’s third Batman film did edge out “The Dark Knight,” which made $158 million for its weekend premiere — cementing “The Dark Knight Rises” as the biggest 2D film opening weekend of all time.
However, it’s difficult to evaluate “The Dark Knight Rises'” box office performance without considering the tragic Aurora, Colorado theater shooting during a midnight release of the film. Although it’s currently impossible to determine whether the event had an effect on the box office performance of “The Dark Knight Rises” across the country, it seems likely that it played a role — even if it was indirect. Warner Bros. pulled all television and radio ads for the film that were scheduled to run over the weekend in response to the shooting, which may have directly affected attendance.