'Dark Knight Rises' opens to estimated $162 million amid tragedy

LOS ANGELES — Though the tragic movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., cast a pall on the opening of "The Dark Knight Rises," it didn't seem to keep crowds away from the new Batman film this weekend.

The final installment in Christopher Nolan's trilogy grossed about $162 million upon its domestic opening, according to projections from sources in Hollywood. The official estimates that studios typically distribute on Sunday were withheld this week because of the massacre at a post-midnight screening of the superhero film that left 12 dead and 58 injured.

Before the events in Colorado transpired, pre-release audience surveys had forecast that "The Dark Knight Rises" likely would collect between $180 million and $200 million during its first weekend in theaters.

If the $162-million estimate is confirmed when the official weekend figures are issued today, the movie will have notched the third-highest debut ever — not adjusting for inflation — behind only two 3-D films, "The Avengers" and the final entry in the "Harry Potter" series.

In 2008, "The Dark Knight" debuted with $158 million and went on to become one of 12 films to gross more than $1 billion worldwide.

Warner Bros. and other major film studios cited respect for the grieving families as the reason for not releasing box office revenue figures Sunday. The company that gathers box office data, Rentrak, also did not report weekend numbers.

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