The TV ads returned. Milestones were reached. But one week after the horror at an opening-day, midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, the box-office fate of the new Christopher Nolan Batman film is still uncertain.
Except in the standings, where the movie presumably will finish a second weekend at No. 1.
But beyond that, the guesses are guesses, and the definitive answer may be weeks off.
"Our attitude is anyone who didn't go to opening weekend will show up at some point," BoxOffice.com editor Phil Contrino said. "My guess is the holdouts are not going to hold out."
The present is mixed. The film broke $200 million domestically on Wednesday, and became the fifth-fastest film to surpass that mark, but BoxOfficeProphets.com's David Mumpower called the day's estimated gross of $13.8 million "pretty grim" when matched up against the film's predecessor, The Dark Knight, which took in nearly $5 million more on the same day in 2008.
The new film, Mumpower said, "shouldn't have fallen that fast…we all know the rules: sequels always start out bigger, and then they fade faster."
In Mumpower's view, if The Dark Knight Rises is already falling, then it'll fall well short of the Titanic-challenging The Dark Knight. Unless, that is, it doesn't. Unless, that is, the film is only getting started.
Again with the unknowns.
"You don't know if it finds a second life," Mumpower said. "I hope it recovers."
The Dark Knight Rises' coming weekend will be as watched as its opening weekend. Exhibitor Relations is calling for the movie to hold on about as well as most big films, and score a $77 million Friday-Sunday take. BoxOffice.com foresees a $66 million gross, but enough business down the road to ultimately power the film to a Dark Knight-topping domestic run of $575 million. Mumpower thinks the film will end up more in the neighborhood of The Hunger Games, which, at $405 million, is the year's second-biggest-grossing film.
After six days in theaters, The Dark Knight Rises stood at about $212 million domestically. At the same point in its run, The Dark Knight had grossed $222.2 million.
The Avengers, the year's No. 1 film, and the third-biggest-grossing domestic hit of all-time, having surpassed The Dark Knight in June, was at $257.6 million after six days.
The precise impact of the July 20 shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colo., on the Dark Knight Rises' box office is unknown, although the film, which posted a $161 million debut, came in anywhere from $15 million to $30 million lower than popular opening-weekend estimates.
If audience skittishness was the difference-maker, then Wade Holden, an analyst for the research firm SNL Kagan, said he expected the Dark Knight Rises' audience to start heading back to theaters as soon as this weekend, and for the film to close in on The Hunger Games.
Beyond its box-office run, a small piece of a movie's overall pie, business journalist Robert Marich, author of Marketing to Moviegoers, said The Dark Knight Rises will continue to be viable. "I don't see any signs people blame the film," he said.
Indeed, Dark Knight Rises TV ads, pulled in the wake of the Aurora shooting, made their return to the air with no fanfare or fuss. Elsewhere, Aurora-related controversies seemed to move past the Batman movie, and engulf other films, including Step Up Revolution and Gangster Squad.