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WB releases ‘Dark Knight’ tally: $160.9 mil

Studio had suspended B.O. reporting out of respect for Aurora victims

With its blackout period on box office reporting past, Warner Bros. confirmed that “The Dark Knight Rises” earned $160.9 million over its initial three days, making it the third-highest domestic bow ever, and the best opening for a 2D film. Pic also broke Imax records both domestically and worldwide.

The studio decided not to send out weekend estimates, out of respect for the victims of the July 20 shooting in Aurora, Colo., which killed 12 and wounded 58. The other majors, along with exhibs and B.O. aggregator Rentrak, joined WB in an unprecedented show of solidarity.

Christopher Nolan’s Batman finale surpassed 2008’s “The Dark Knight” ($158 million) to score the franchise’s biggest opening, though Warners stayed quiet about the milestone, sending only the numbers in an email to media — not the chest-pounding press release usually associated with such an achievement. Imax similarly was mum about the pic’s records.

The studio launched the film in 17 overseas territories, where it collected $88 million, including $4.8 million from Imax. The pic’s megascreen domestic contribution totaled $19 million for a worldwide haul of $23.8 million — edging Imax’s previous global record bow ($23.2 million) set by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”

Whether the Colorado shooting had any effect on the pic’s opening weekend can never be fully quantified; not even comparisons to its predecessor provide much clarity. “The Dark Knight Rises,” which received an “A” CinemaScore, fell 41% Friday-to-Saturday, with an 11% drop on Sunday. By comparison, 2008’s “Dark Knight” fell just 29% on Saturday — but that pic had a much smaller Friday midnight contribution ($18.4 million vs. $30.6 million for “TDKR”).

The Batman finale would have stayed relatively flat Friday-to-Saturday had it not been for its latenight gross. The same goes for the second installment.

Still, “Dark Knight Rises” originally was expected to land in the $175 million range, which would have made it the second-highest domestic opening, behind “The Avengers” ($207 million) and ahead of “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” ($169 million).

If moviegoers did shy away from theaters this weekend due to safety concerns, their return this weekend could boost “TDKR’s” holdover potential — which doesn’t bode well for 20th Century Fox’s “The Watch” and Lionsgate’s “Step Up Revolution,” both of which were already bracing for Batman’s wake.

Overseas, the U.K. ranked as the top market for “TDKR” with $22.5 million, followed by South Korea ($15.7 million) and Australia ($15.5 million). Pic was hurt by the current economic crisis in Spain, where it grossed just $4.3 million.

Second to Batman this weekend, Fox’s soph sesh holdover “Ice Age: Continental Drift” grossed $20.4 million (falling 56%, a steeper-than-desired drop) for a Stateside cume of $88.8 million. Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” followed, with $10.9 million, down 69% in its third Stateside frame, totaling $228.6 million domestically.

At the specialty box office, Focus Features’ “Moonrise Kingdom” grossed $1.8 million, bringing its Stateside cume to $36 million after nine weeks. Sony Pictures Classics’ “To Rome With Love,” meanwhile, collected an additional $1.4 million, and has tallied $11 million.

Paramount Insurge screened Australian crime drama “The Loved Ones” at New York’s IFC Center for one midnight screening on Friday and Saturday. Pic totaled just $156, though it’s cumed nearly $6,300 from seven locations.

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