Moviegoers wary after ‘Dark Knight’ tragedy


LOS ANGELES – Four weeks after the shooting at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Colorado, 17 percent of moviegoers are still reluctant to head to theaters.

That’s the finding of the most recent survey by consulting firm Screen Engine, which has been polling Americans each week since the shooting.

While the figure has declined slightly from 21 percent in the first week after the shooting, the still-significant number demonstrates that the after-effects of the movie theater massacre, in which 12 people died and 59 were injured, are still being felt.

That could help explain why several recent films had lower-than-expected openings, based on interest in pre-release surveys, including “The Bourne Legacy,” “Total Recall” and “The Watch.”

“In our experience, when there are major events that reach the national news level, it can take at least several weeks for things to get back to normal,” said Screen Engine chief executive Kevin Goetz.

The surveys found that teenagers, particularly females, were most likely to be hesitant about going to movie theaters.

Late-night screenings may be particularly affected. Several people who closely follow box office returns noted it didn’t become clear that some recent movies were underperforming until box office receipts from nighttime showings were counted.