Warner Bros. grapples with Colo. shooting

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“I don’t know if James Holmes cared deeply about Batman,” film critic Roger Ebert wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times. “I suspect he cared deeply about seeing himself on the news.”

The National Association of Theatre Owners issued a statement offering their “hearts and prayers” to the victims. The association said, “Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theater owners,” adding that the group would work closely with law enforcement and review security procedures.

“We share the shock and sadness of everyone in the motion picture community at the news of this terrible event,” said former Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America. “We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones and all those affected by this tragedy.”

“The Dark Knight Rises” had expectations of being one of the biggest weekend openings ever. Its midnight screenings earned $30.6 million, Warner Bros. said Friday. That’s the second-best midnight opening ever, behind $43.5 million for the “Harry Potter” finale. “The Dark Knight” earned a then-record $158.4 million in its first three days, including $18.5 million from midnight screenings.

The PG-13 film played in 3,825 theaters domestically in the midnight screenings, expanding to 4,404 cinemas nationwide Friday. Many showings on the weekend were sold out in advance.

Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for Hollywood.com who specializes in box office, declined to speculate on an effect the tragedy might have on the film over the weekend, saying it was too soon to estimate. But some moviegoers were already rethinking their plans.

Christine Cooley, who works for the University of Florida at a campus facility near Tampa, Fla., said she and her 15-year-old daughter were stunned by the TV coverage of the shooting Friday morning.

“Her immediate reaction was `I’m never going to the movie theater again. Why should I go somewhere where I’m looking over my shoulder worrying that someone is going to come in and harm us when I can wait six months and watch it in the safety of my own home?’”

Cooley said she tried to explain to her daughter that it was an isolated incident, “but I see where she’s coming from. Why put yourself in harm’s way?”

Others were undeterred.

“Just seem like another day at the movies,” said Jimmie Baker, 40, of Harlem, N.Y., at a theater in Times Square.

Andrew Bross, 22, of Livingston, N.J., returned Friday to watch “The Dark Knight Rises” for the second time in 12 hours.

“I go to the movies every week,” he said. “I’m going to keep going. I’m not going to let it stop me one bit.”

Damon Lindelof, the co-creator of “Lost,” said he was going to see the film Friday night and suggested a modest tribute: a minute of silence as the end credit roll.

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