NEW YORK — The movie industry is reeling from Friday’s deadly Colorado shooting at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, as one of the most anticipated films of the decade became enmeshed in tragedy.
The shooting, which killed 12 and left at least 50 injured, upended plans for the film's global release. Warner Bros. quickly canceled a premiere planned for Paris and canceled press interviews in France.
“Everybody is very saddened by the event. We were obviously looking for a very happy occasion for us,” said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros. “It's a difficult way to begin. Were just more concerned now with the well-being of those that were injured, of course.”
The studio had no further comment on whether screenings might be canceled, or precautions taken.
Cinemark Holdings, Inc., the chain that owns the theater where the shooting happened, said it was deeply saddened.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and loved ones, our employees, and the Aurora community. … Cinemark is working closely with the Aurora Police Department and local law enforcement,” the company said.
Movie theaters around the U.S. continued showings of the film as planned.
The Dark Knight Rises and the earlier Batman films, with their dark themes and emphasis on terrorism, were sure to be heavily scrutinized.
The practice of midnight screenings for eagerly anticipated blockbusters, too, could come into question.
The National Association of Theatre Owners issued a statement saying, “Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theater owners.” It said 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 Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.
The Dark Knight Rises had expectations of being one of the biggest weekend openings ever. The previous installment, The Dark Knight, earned a then-record $158.4 million in its first three days, including $18.5 million from midnight screenings.
Fellman said the studio still planned to release early U.S. box-office results of the roughly 3,700 theaters domestically that began showing The Dark Knight Rises at midnight. The film expanded into its full domestic debut of 4,404 cinemas nationwide Friday.
Some moviegoers were already rethinking their plans.
Christine Cooley in Florida said she and her 15-year-old daughter were stunned by the shooting.
“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?”