At the risk of spoiling too much, there is a computer program in "The Dark Knight Rises" called the "clean slate." As the name implies, the program can erase all your records, all your criminal history. It's a fresh start. A new beginning.
While there's no such thing in the real world (or even in Gotham City) that could ever wipe a tragedy as senseless and horrific as the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, on Friday from the pages of history, I'm sure I'm not the only fanboy in the world wishing they could will one into existence right now.
Make no mistake about it: A dark, dark cloud hangs heavily over "Rises," a film that by all accounts was destined to be the "it" movie of the summer. It turns out that it is indeed the "it" film of 2012 but for all the wrong reasons.
Questions surrounding the motivations of shooting suspect James Holmes have emerged, with one disturbing report going so far as to link him to the Joker, Batman's mortal nemesis. Security is being beefed up at theaters nationwide. There is a palpable sense of panic and grief surrounding the final "Dark Knight" film, feelings that are entirely understandable given the horrors inflicted on not just the theatergoers in Aurora, but on all of us, really, on the biggest opening night of the year.
But the tragedy in Aurora has not prevented "The Dark Knight" from rising, at least at the box office. Christopher Nolan's last Gotham City adventure earned approximately $30 million from midnight showings alone. The Hollywood Reporter sees "Rises" landing in the $80 million to $90 million range on Friday, with a possible weekend total of $175 million to $180 million. That would give "Rises" the second-biggest opening weekend of all time following "Avengers" earlier this year.
The numbers aren't the only barometer of continued interest in "Rises" as a film and not as a tragedy, either. Bloggers at Ain't It Cool and Badass Digest have penned heartfelt pleas to their readers to honor the victims in Aurora and the rest of the moviegoing community by seeing a film any film in a theater this weekend. And those fans seem to be listening. Hollywood.com's Matt Patches wrote an excellent article featuring interviews with fans who still plan on seeing the new "Dark Knight" despite the surrounding tragedy. Likewise, Erik Davis of Movies.com cast his vote in moviegoing's favor, tweeting: "Was already planning on taking the girl to dinner and a movie tonight, and now I'm definitely going to that movie."
I'm definitely going to that movie too. "The Dark Knight Rises" is utterly fantastic. It is the movie everybody hoped Nolan could deliver and then some. It is worth multiple viewings. It is worth at least the one, glorious theatrical sitting. And even if one "murdering psychopath" managed to sideline Bruce Wayne's crime-fighting career for eight years, I won't follow that example here. I won't allow the actions of one self-declared joker stand between me and my passion.
It's too soon to know how long this horrible tragedy will loom over "The Dark Knight Rises," or if the film will ever be able to step out from under its shadow at all. But sure as I know anything, I know this: The victims of the Aurora shooting were our people. They were the midnight warriors, the ones who stand on Hall H lines at Comic-Con for hours on end because they believe in the power of film and fiction. These victims, our people, members of the moviegoing nation, got something much darker than they bargained for when they entered that theater. But if you count yourself among the number of people worldwide who believe in the power of film, in the transformative quality and adventurous spirit of seeing a film in theaters, then I humbly repeat what has been better said elsewhere: Go see a movie this weekend. Make it "Dark Knight," if that's the one you've been looking forward to. And when you've seen it, come back and let's talk about it. We'll be here. We hope you will be too.
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