Shooting at US theater shocks movie industry

NEW YORK (AP) -- The movie industry was reeling Friday from the deadly Colorado shooting at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," as one of the most anticipated films of the decade became enmeshed in tragedy.

The shooting, which killed 12 and left at least 50 injured, upended plans for the film's global release. Warner Bros. quickly canceled a premiere planned for Paris and canceled press interviews in France.

"Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident," read a statement from Warner Bros. "We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones and those affected by this tragedy."

Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros, said he had been up since 4 a.m. making calls.

"Everybody is very saddened by the event. We were obviously looking for a very happy occasion for us," Fellman said. "It's a difficult way to begin. We're just more concerned now with the well-being of those that were injured, of course."

The studio had no further comment on whether screenings might be canceled, or precautions taken. Director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Warner Bros. did move to pull trailers for its upcoming movie "Gangster Squad" from showings of "The Dark Knight Rises." The trailer of the film, about a ruthless war between `40s Los Angeles police and the mob, includes a scene of mobsters firing into a movie theater from behind the screen. It wasn't immediately clear if the trailer played before the Aurora theater audience.

Cinemark Holdings, Inc., the chain that owns the theater where the shooting happened, said it was deeply saddened.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and loved ones, our employees, and the Aurora community. ... Cinemark is working closely with the Aurora Police Department and local law enforcement," the company said.

Movie theaters around the U.S. continued Friday showings of the film as planned.

"The Dark Knight Rises" and the earlier Batman films, with their dark themes and emphasis on terrorism, were sure to be heavily scrutinized.

The practice of midnight screenings for eagerly anticipated blockbusters, too, could come into question.

The National Association of Theatre Owners issued a statement saying, "Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theater owners." It said the group would work closely with law enforcement and review security procedures.

"We share the shock and sadness of everyone in the motion picture community at the news of this terrible event," said Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.

"The Dark Knight Rises" had expectations of being one of the biggest weekend openings ever. Its midnight screenings earned $30.6 million, Warner Bros., said Friday. That's the second-best midnight opening ever, behind $43.5 million for the "Harry Potter" finale. The previous Batman installment, "The Dark Knight," earned a then-record $158.4 million in its first three days, including $18.5 million from midnight screenings.

The film played in roughly 3,700 theaters domestically in the midnight screenings, expanding to 4,404 cinemas nationwide Friday.

Some moviegoers were rethinking their plans.

Christine Cooley in Florida said she and her 15-year-old daughter were stunned by the shooting.

"Her immediate reaction was, `I'm never going to the movie theater again. Why should I go somewhere where I'm looking over my shoulder worrying that someone is going to come in and harm us, when I can wait six months and watch it in the safety of my own home?"'

Cooley said she tried to explain to her daughter that it was an isolated incident, "but I see where she's coming from. Why put yourself in harm's way?"

Print this article Back to Top