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New Batman film hit by sluggish sales

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Associated Press

In this promotional image provided by Warner Bros, actor Christian Bale portrays Batman in a scene from The Dark Knight Rises.

Los Angeles - Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises earned $64.1-million at United States and Canadian theatres during its second weekend, topping box office charts in a sluggish overall market facing Olympic television coverage and the impact of the Colorado shooting.

The finale in director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy starring Christian Bale added $122.1-million from international markets and has pulled in $248.2-million overseas since its July 20 debut, distributor Warner Bros said.

Add in cumulative ticket sales of $289-million in domestic markets - the United States and Canada - and the global haul now stands at $537-million for the film that cost its backers $250-million to make and tens of millions more to market.

Sales in US and Canadian theatres dropped 60 percent from its debut weekend, a bigger decline than predecessor The Dark Knight or other recent superhero films.

In 2008, Dark Knight fell 53 percent during its second weekend to earn $75-million domestically, according to Hollywood.com Box Office. This year, summer smash The Avengers slipped 50 percent in the weekend following its opening in May, and June release The Amazing Spider-Man declined 44 percent.

While Dark Knight Rises ranks as one of the year's highest-grossing movies, sales are weaker than pre-release forecasts after the opening was overshadowed by the killing of 12 moviegoers at a midnight screening in Aurora, Colorado.

Through Sunday, total Dark Knight Rises sales in North America ran behind Dark Knight, which hauled in $313.8-million domestically through its first two weekends.

Warner Bros officials declined to discuss box office and its relation to the shooting for the second week, but industry watchers said the turnout for the Batman film and other movies likely suffered from some moviegoer reluctance after the massacre, as well as Friday's start to the London Olympics.

“It's been a double dose of things,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com Box Office. “The Olympics has been dominating media coverage lately and probably kept a lot of people home Friday night, and then there's the Aurora shooting.”

He noted that lacklustre reviews for this weekend's new features likely further dampened theatre attendance but predicted that next weekend will see a resurgence.

“There will be a bit more distance from the Aurora shooting, the Olympics will become routine, and there's some really exciting films coming out,” Dergarabedian said, mentioning upcoming Total Recall and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.

Overall domestic ticket sales for the weekend came in 25 percent lower than the same weekend one year ago, according to Hollywood.com Box Office.

The No. 2 spot belonged to animated children's movie Ice Age: Continental Drift, with $13.3-million. It beat out comedy The Watch and dance movie Step Up Revolution, both of which made their theatre debuts this weekend.

The Watch came in third, earning $13-million at domestic theatres. The film stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill as men who start a neighbourhood watch group to battle aliens. The movie earned largely negative reviews, with just 14 percent of critics praising the film on website Rotten Tomatoes.

The Watch also was affected by real-life events. In May, 20th Century Fox changed the movie's title from Neighbourhood Watch to distance it from the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin by neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida.

Ahead of the weekend, Fox saw the $68-million production pulling in $13-million to $15-million.

“We didn't really know what to expect,” said executive vice-president for domestic distribution at Fox Chris Aronson, speaking on the box office climate, post-shooting. “It's a wild-card weekend for sure.”

Aronson said he “hopes for a bounceback in the overall marketplace”, which he predicted would benefit all films.

Step Up Revolution finished in fourth place with $11.8-million domestically. The movie about a group of flash-mob dancers in Miami is the fourth in a franchise that has grossed more than $400-million around the world. Its distributor had forecast a domestic opening in the low- to mid-teens.

Comedy Ted rounded out the top five with $7.4 million. - Reuters


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