Shooting at Colo. theater shocks movie industry
NEW YORK (AP) -- The movie industry was reeling in shock 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 with a horrifying tragedy.
The shooting on Friday, which killed 12 and left at least 50 injured in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, reverberated through Hollywood and upended carefully laid plans for the global release of "The Dark Knight Rises." 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."
The studio was rushing to react to the 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.
Cinemark Holdings, Inc., the chain that owns the theater where the shooting happened, said it was deeply saddened by the tragedy.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and loved ones, our employees, and the Aurora community. We are grateful for the quick and professional reaction of all local law enforcement and emergency responders. Cinemark is working closely with the Aurora Police Department and local law enforcement," the company said.
Movie theaters around the country continued Friday showings of the film as planned.
In the wake of the shooting, though, "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 offering their "hearts and prayers" to the victims. The association said, "Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theater owners," adding that 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. "We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones and all those affected by this tragedy."
"The Dark Knight Rises" had expectations of being one of the biggest weekend openings ever. The previous installment, "The Dark Knight," earned a then-record $158.4 million in its first three days, including $18.5 million from midnight screenings.
Fellman said the studio still planned to release early box-office results Friday of the roughly 3,700 theaters domestically that began showing "The Dark Knight Rises" at midnight. The film expanded into its full domestic debut of 4,404 cinemas nationwide Friday.
Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for Hollywood.com who specializes in box office, declined to speculate on an effect the tragedy might have on the film over the weekend. But some moviegoers were already rethinking their plans.
Christine Cooley, who works for the University of Florida at a campus facility near Tampa, Fla., said she and her 15-year-old daughter were stunned by the TV coverage of the shooting Friday morning.
"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."
AP Movie Writer David Germain and AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire contributed to this report from Los Angeles. Mitch Stacy in Columbus, Ohio, also contributed.
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