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‘Dark Knight’ strong with $64 mil

Pic beats expectations with 60% drop after Colorado tragedy

Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight Rises” collected a whopping $122.1 million at the overseas box office in its second weekend while dropping a better-than-expected 60% domestically with a haul of $64.1 million. Fox’s “Ice Age: Continental Drift” continued to impress internationally, collecting almost $50 million for a cume of $514 million.

“Dark Knight Rises” has amassed $289.1 million Stateside and nearly $540 million worldwide.

Beyond Batman, domestic moviegoing this weekend was sluggish. Fox’s R-rated newcomer “The Watch” disappointed with $13 million, and Lionsgate-Summit’s “Step Up Revolution” similarly landed at the low end of expectations with an estimated $11.8 million.

Domestic playability for “Dark Knight Rises” faced increased scrutiny this weekend from pundits who questioned whether audiences would still feel hesitant to go to the movies after the shootings in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 dead and 58 others wounded at a screening of “Dark Knight Rises.” Some thought it significant that the film fell 74% on Friday. However, that evened out on Saturday thanks to a nearly 40% increase. Friday’s big drop could be attributed to the distraction from the splashy opening of the Summer Olympics in London, but another key factor was the $30.6 million midnight take that was added on to the tallies for the Friday opening of “Dark Knight Rises” a week earlier.

A 65%-70% soph-sesh drop would have been reasonable for a film that opened as well as “Dark Knight Rises,” which bowed Stateside to $161 million. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” for instance, fell 72% following its $169 million opening. “Dark Knight” dropped 53% in its second weekend in 2008, but that film had a smaller midnight gross ($18.4 million) during opening weekend than either “Potter” or “Dark Knight Rises.”

Moreover, it was unlikely that “Dark Knight Rises” would hold as well as its predecessor since that pic outpaced the perf of “Rises” in midweeks.

“I think we have a depressed marketplace, but there are some promising signs,” said Fox distribution topper Chris Aronson, referring to the strong industrywide bump on Saturday.

A few specialty players rode the Friday-to-Saturday wave: Focus Features’ “Moonrise Kingdom” was up 72% on Saturday, helping contribute to a solid estimated $1.4 million weekend take and $38.4 million cume. Also, the Weinstein Co.’s French B.O. hit “The Intouchables” more than doubled its Friday gross the following day, earning $512,000 from 194 locations. Domestic cume is $7.8 million.

Fox Searchlight bowed indie comedy “Ruby Sparks” on Wednesday, resulting in a five-day gross of $191,717 from 13 locations. Pic averaged a solid $14,747 per screen.

Sony Pictures Classics’ music docu “Searching for Sugar Man” opened so-so in the U.S., averaging $9,511 from three locations for an estimated total of $28,533. And LD Entertainment’s “Killer Joe,” rated NC-17, scored a $12,621 per-screen average in three days.

“Step Up” could see increased midweek playability with teens and tweens on school vacation. The film scored an overwhelming 71% of its opening from auds under 24, while females accounted for 64%. “The Watch,” which received a discouraging C+ CinemaScore, earned most of its debut from men over 25. “Step Up,” meanwhile, fared better with a B+ rating.

“Step Up” did poorly in 3D, as it accounted for 90% of the screens but contributed just 51% of the opening. The dismal 3D perf further illustrates a growing audience fatigue, especially since younger-skewing pics like “Step Up” tend to do well in the format. Consider “Step Up 3D,” which delivered 81% of its opening weekend gross in 3D.

“Dark Knight Rises” — a 2D-only pic — continues to perform well in Imax, which has contributed $37.7 million (or 13%) of the film’s domestic cume.

Warners expanded the final installment of helmer Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy this weekend to 40 additional overseas markets, including France, which led the charge with $11.3 million, including previews. Other new markets included Germany, where the pic grossed $9.9 million, followed closely by Mexico, which tallied an estimated $9.8 million. In the U.K., “Rises” fell just 53% for a soph-sesh take of $10.6 million and a local cume of $47 million.

Batman’s overseas charge hasn’t impeded Fox’s fourth “Ice Age” outing internationally, as it entered its fifth frame in some markets. “Continental Drift” scored a No. 1 opening in China with $15.7 million — demolishing its head-to-head competitor, Universal’s “The Lorax,” which grossed a mere $1.1 million locally.

Like in the States, the Olympics generally have a marginal effect on the overseas box office, since most auds aren’t avid supporters of all events. The Games certainly won’t have as much of an impact on foreign B.O. as the Euro or World Cup soccer tourneys.

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