Pic earns $18.1 mil; tragedy, Olympics expected to mute weekend box office

A combination of tragedy and distraction kept auds away from plexes Friday, so while “The Dark Knight Rises” certainly isn’t rising, it is still holding the line in its soph sesh with $18.1 million from Friday.

Low interest in going to the theaters and counterprogramming from Friday night’s Olympics Opening Ceremony are both being cited for pulling eyes away from silver screens, with the Warner Bros. actioner down 76% from its opening night. Though this drop is expected to pull up somewhat through Sunday, 65% for a gross in the high $50 million range, it is by all accounts a sluggish weekend.

By comparison, “The Dark Knight” fell 65% from its first to second Friday, and 53% in its second weekend in 2008. With so-so midweek numbers compared to its predecessor, “TDKR” has cumed $243.1 million domestically thus far.

In second, Lionsgate-Summit’s “Step Up: Revolution” grossed $4.9 million Friday, becoming the more promising of two newcomers expected to underwhelm in the low- or mid-teens this frame. The second, Fox’s R-rated laffer “The Watch” earned $4.5 million Friday.

Both “TDKR” and “The Watch” have had the burden of distancing themselves from tragedy. Fox redirected its marketing push for “The Watch,” originally titled “Neighborhood Watch,” early after the shooting of Trayvon Martin. What impact this had on the level of force behind the film’s marketing efforts is unknown, but insiders suggest the lack of diversity in demo interest among the film’s toplining cast also hurt prospects as no star except “The IT Crowd” alum Richard Ayoade adds any new audience.

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