Following the tragedy of what is now dubbed the “Dark Knight Massacre”, executives at Warner Brothers are rethinking their marketing strategy.
According to the NY Daily News, the Champs-Elysees premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” was immediately cancelled after news broke of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado. A press conference scheduled to take place the next morning was also cancelled.
TheWrap: Executives were gathered in the middle of the night to deliberate the possibility of cancelling more weekend screenings of the film at theatre chains. "Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident," the studio issued in a statement. "We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time." However, the studio stopped short of commenting on its decision to proceed with scheduled screenings.
A Decision is Made
In an update, Warner Bros. spokeswoman Sue Fleischman told TheWrap, “We are not cancelling any screenings or showings of the film.”
“The Dark Knight Rises” will continue to play in theatres as planned. This appears to be a business-savvy option. Box office earnings from Friday alone are projected at $80-$80.5 million, surpassing the opening-day grosses of The Avengers, which sits at $61.2 million. Weekend grosses of “The Dark Knight Rises” are projected at a record-breaking $180-$200 million.
While Warner Brothers has not issued any public statements about changes in their marketing approach, several sources have come forth to reveal the studio’s more muted courses of action. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, two versions of TV ads for the superhero film will be taken off air. The film’s central villain, Bain, is shown wearing a mask in some of the original marketing. It is speculated that his role in the film's promotions will be altered.
Major networks like NBC, CSB, and ESPN have pulled ads for the movie altogether.
A Vancouver Sun article reveals that the trailer to “Gangster Squad”, Warner Brothers’ next box office hit, has been pulled from all movie theatres. One of the film’s notable scenes features armed mobsters shooting at an audience through a screen at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
An Audience Unmoved?
A source from Warner Brothers tells Deadline: “What happened in Colorado is a tragedy, make no mistake about it. But East Coast numbers are coming in like nothing ever happened. We grossed half a million dollars by 10 AM just in Manhattan.”
Another one says, “One incident, as horrific as it is, does not necessarily cause people to want to change their patterns. Young people still want to go to movie theaters and they still want to see this movie.”
The mass shooting at the Aurora, Colorado multiplex killed at least 12, and wounded 59 others. The suspect James Holmes, 24, is now in custody. The incident has generated widespread media attention and national mourning; despite this, moviegoers will still be able to catch showings of “The Dark Knight Rises” over the weekend.