There was a minute where we thought that maybe, just maybe, Hollywood would actually silence itself as some sort of gesture to the victimes of the Aurora shooting. How naive we were.
Warner Bros. and other studios announced they were going to hold off on announcing the box office grosses for The Dark Knight Rises in the wake of the shooting. Rentrak and other box office data collectors agreed to do the same. Everyone planned to hold off until Monday to announce anything. It was an empty gesture, sure, but it was something.
And yet, here's Nikki Finke at Deadline reporting studio sources leaked her the box office information. She at least defended reporting the box office numbers like this:
It may seem callous to post about less-than-packed theaters around the country and North American and worldwide box office this weekend after the Colorado movie theater tragedy. And of course our hearts go out to those killed and wounded. (I stayed up all Friday post-midnight/pre-dawn reporting on the shooting as the horrendous event unfolded.) But this is an entertainment business website that tracks movie grosses. And so many filmmakers inside and outside Hollywood worked exhaustively on The Dark Knight Rises — just as they do on every pic released each year — that the final product should be examined for its success vis a vis ticket sales.
And here's the New York Times reporting studio officials leaked the movie's box office information to them:
But the money at stake was too big for moviedom to ignore, and studio officials with access to box-office numbers provided them to The New York Times. Those officials, in private, spent the weekend seemingly marveling at the ability of “The Dark Knight Rises” to maintain much of its momentum in the wake of the killings.
They didn't defend their reporting at any point. The Hollywood Reporter has the numbers too, but at no point do they mention how they got them, or do they justify reporting the numbers despite an almost industry wide agreement to stay silent for an extra day.
We aren't going to include anything about the movie's actual performance in this space. If you want to know that badly, click away. Warner Bros. pledge of silence was an empty gesture. It didn't do anything. It was the studio agreeing to not spend the weekend celebrating a movie that's expected to bring them in boatloads of money. Realistically, if the shooting hadn't happened, Warner would have spent the weekend bragging endlessly about the movie's performance to the press. It was an agreement not to be obnoxious about it. And they (the industry, at least) couldn't even do that. Instead, we get word they're "quietly amazed" that a shooting didn't stop everyone from seeing their precious movie.
We're going to join Gawker's Max Read and the New York Times' Nate Silver and suggest the studio donates some of the proceeds from the weekend's box office performance to mental health clinics or anti-gun organizations. The movie's going to gross over a billion dollars worldwide by the time it leaves theaters. You can spare $20 million, Warner.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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