Warner Bros. has found itself in a very tight spot: It has what could be one of the biggest films of the year opening in theaters. But now it's heavily marred by the shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 people dead and 59 injured.
The studio has already announced that it would not celebrate opening weekend box office numbers of "The Dark Knight Rises," and it has also cancelled its star-studded Paris premiere that was set for Friday. But could Warner Bros. go all the way to pulling the film from theaters completely?
According to The Wrap, executives at the studio have been strongly considering that very scenario. According to the publication, Warner Bros. is "still considering whether to take further measures beyond canceling the Paris premiere, including canceling screenings at theater chains."
The film was still available as of late Friday evening in theater chains, nearly 24 hours after the Aurora incident. It's not clear exactly what Warner Bros. is using to consider whether to keep "The Dark Knight Rises" in theaters. If the film is pulled prematurely, it could have devastating effects on the film's box office numbers, and have many fans scratching their heads trying to figure out why.
Some fans, taking to the social network, seemed to be largely against such a move, saying that pulling the movie wouldn't honor the victims of the shooting in any way. Others pointed out that "Dark Knight Rises" was not the first time there has been shootings at movie theaters with big film openings.
New Jersey's Star-Ledger points out a half-dozen similar events in the past, dating back to 1991 and the release of the film "New Jack City." One man was killed in a Brooklyn theater during that film's release, and fights were reported elsewhere in the area. Later that year, theaters showing "Boyz in the Hood" suffered some violence, including a fatal shooting.
The worst was in 1999 during the release of "Fight Club" where a man killed three people and injured five others in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Christopher Nolan, who directed "The Dark Knight Rises" as well as the two previous films in the trilogy, released a statement expressing his "profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community."
"I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting, but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe moves are one of the great American art forms, and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.
"The movie [theater] is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families."
Warner Bros. announced that it would not release box office results this weekend, however, other studios could as part of their release. Yet, The Hollywood Reporter says that the studios may be joining together to jointly not release box office results this weekend. If that happened, that would be the first time in modern theater history that studios withheld that information to the public.
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