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Los Angeles Times, Published July 24 2012

‘Dark Knight Rises’ posts $249 million opening in wake of shooting

LOS ANGELES – Law enforcement officials plan to continue an undercover presence in Los Angeles-area movie theaters through at least Sunday, as “The Dark Knight Rises” opened to a very strong $249 million worldwide.

There was only one reported incident this past weekend after police were posted in local theaters in an effort to reduce anxiety and prevent copycat crimes following Friday’s massacre at a showing of the third film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise in Colorado.

A man waiting for the superhero film to begin at an AMC theater in Norwalk was arrested Sunday after fellow patrons reported that he became agitated and said, “I should go off like in Colorado,” sheriff’s deputies said. He did not have a gun, they said, but was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said “focused patrols,” in which deputies paid special visits to theaters, would continue for the foreseeable future.

The news came as Warner Bros. confirmed Monday that “The Dark Knight Rises” grossed $160.9 million in the United States and Canada from Friday through Sunday and an additional $88 million overseas in the first 17 countries where it debuted.

For the first time in many years, most major studios did not release box-office estimates Sunday out of concern about appearing insensitive to the news that 12 people had been killed and 58 wounded early Friday at a post-midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” outside Denver.

Although Warner released the film’s weekend grosses Monday, studio executives declined to discuss the figures.

The $160.9-million take marks the third-highest domestic opening of all time, not accounting for inflation. But the domestic sum is only slightly higher than the $158-million opening of its Batman predecessor, 2008’s “The Dark Knight,” despite four years of rising ticket prices. That means fewer fans turned out to see the new film on its first weekend.

People who saw pre-release research had predicted the film would open with between $180 million and $200 million. It’s impossible to know whether the shooting in the Colorado movie theater played a role in “The Dark Knight Rises” falling short of those expectations, but the film still had a strong debut that will probably make it very profitable for Warner Bros. and its partner, Legendary Pictures.

The final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy also had a robust start overseas in just 17 markets. The movie had its biggest debut in the United Kingdom, followed by South Korea, Australia and Spain.