The Dark Knight Rises

Warner Bros. Entertainment

The Dark Knight Rises dominated a weak box-office weekend marked by the fizzled launches of The Watch and Step Up Revolution

The Christopher Nolan Batman movie grossed an estimated $64.1 million, down 60 percent from its big, but apparently Aurora, Colo.,-impacted opening weekend.

Domestically, the film is now running about $25 million behind the pace of its storied predecessor, The Dark Knight.

Where does Dark Knight Rises go from here?

"The big thing," Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock said Sunday, "is Batman is performing like a mere mortal."

The Dark Knight Rises' second-weekend drop fell smack in between the declines experienced by this summer's biggest hit, The Avengers (50 percent), and last summer's biggest hit, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (72 percent).

The movie's projected, 10-day domestic total of $289.1 million represents the second-fastest start of the year. It also highlights the gap between itself and the two world-beaters it was destined to be judged against. At this point in their runs, both The Avengers and The Dark Knight had already blown past $300 million.

The Dark Knight Rises lost an incalcuable amount of box-office business in the wake of the July 20 shooting rampage at an opening-day, midnight screening in Aurora, Colo.

The best news for Hollywood, if not The Dark Knight Rises, is that movie-going seemed to back on track this weekend, especially on Saturday, when business surged. The Dark Knight Rises alone was up about 40 percent from Saturday to Friday, when coincidentally or not the opening ceremony of the London Summer Olympics drew record TV ratings.

Overall, though, ticket sales for the top movies were off significantly from both last week and last year. This time out, it seems the movie themselves rather than Aurora were to blame.

Neither the Ben Stiller-led comedy The Watch ($13 million) nor the dance sequel Step Up Revolution ($11.8 million) made dents; The Watch especially failed to live up to pre-weekend expectations.

Both films had issues: The Watch, formerly Neighborhood Watch, got a new title after the Trayvon Martin case; Step Up Revolution generated the wrong kind of buzz for an Aurora-evoking scene involving gas masks.

But the biggest issue, at least for The Watch, might have been likeability, or lack thereof: Opening-weekend audiences, polling data showed, graded the Stiller film a discouraging C-plus.

Elsewhere, those arguing Aurora will neither change movie-going nor movies can cite the new Matthew McConaughey film Killer Joe. The film, rated NC-17 for "graphic disturbing content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality," grossed $45,000 at three theaters, the weekend's second-best per-screen average behind The Dark Knight Rises.

Here's a complete look at the weekend's top movies, per Friday-Sunday domestic estimates as reported by the studios and Exhibitor Relations:

  1. The Dark Knight Rises, $64 million
  2. Ice Age: Contiental Drift, $13.3 million
  3. The Watch, $13 million
  4. Step Up Revolution, $11.8 million
  5. Ted, $7.4 million
  6. The Amazing Spider-Man, $6.8 million
  7. Brave, $4.2 million
  8. Magic Mike, $2.6 million
  9. Savages, $1.8 million
  10. Moonrise Kingdom, $1.4 million

(Originally published at 9:11a.m PT on July 29, 2012.)

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