By Kelen “B Hyphen” Conley
I went to bed last night complaining on Twitter that I probably wouldn’t get to see The Dark Knight Rises in theaters. Having just started a new job, it looks like my comic fandom is going to take a back seat to the real life reality of paying bills. That being said, I was okay with not attending the midnight premiere of DKR. Having attended the Spider-Man 3 premiere in 2007, I realized midnight showings just weren’t for me. I’d rather hit up a matinee the week after the big screening. Less people and a better opportunity for me to focus on the movie.
In Aurora, Colorado this morning, a lone gunmen opening fired during a DKR screening, killing 12 and wounding 58 as of this writing. In the blink of an eye, the worst mass shooting in America’s history had occurred.
And I was complaining about not getting to see it.
As is the norm with any news story, the questions have been coming in droves. What would make someone do this? What impact will this have on this year’s elections? What does this mean for DKR‘s box office? And for DC Comics and Warner Bros.? Was there an accomplice? What does this mean for Hollywood’s box office in general? And how will this be spun in the never ending gun control debate?
While I don’t have all the answers, I can attempt to discuss some of the issues at hand.
The only person who really knows why the shooter did it would be him. I saw an expert on CNN this morning blame his behavior on a desire for attention because his life was going nowhere and how he had been playing shooter video games to get ready for the real thing. I’m no expert at all and I can’t say that she’s wrong. I just know that there was something truly twisted and demented going through the shooter’s head. The fact that he actually acted on it is the afterthought to me.
President Barack Obama already called off his political rallies for the day and it wouldn’t surprise me if Mitt Romney does the same. Once things die down though, I fully expect both parties to rally around the tragedy. I’m not sure what the election scene looks like in Colorado but the idea of running and not mentioning the shooting would be a mistake.
And now I feel icky after writing about politics.
While no one expected DKR to do the numbers The Avengers did, there’s no way this doesn’t affect its weekend bottom line. It’ll no doubt lead the box office but I expect a lot of people will stay away from theaters for fear of copycats. I think DKR will enjoy a longer box office run because of the shooting, however. People who stay away now will be more willing to check it out in August or even early September.
Warner Bros. has already canceled the DKR premiere in Paris, France and the marketing campaign has been suspended in Finland. They also pulled the trailer for Gangster Squad that was supposed to be shown before DKR due to a similar scene in the film that is eerily like the actual tragedy. WB will continue to do all that they can to prevent negative publicity but there’s always going to be a group of people who will lead a boycott or three. I don’t think this should hurt DC Comics too much other than the stray parent who will decide not to let their child make a Batman related purchase.
News reports have been calling this a one man job. The more details I hear makes me wonder if there was an accomplice though. Because there’s so many details we still don’t know, I wouldn’t be surprised if a second name hits the news by this evening. This again falls into the “why?” category but there has to be way the shooter got as prepared for the act as he did. Again, this is just random speculation and we’ll see what comes out in the next few days.
I don’t suspect Hollywood will be too affected by the tragedy. The aforementioned Gangster Squad and similar fare may be retooled and pushed back but Hollywood is always being blamed for violence. Sadly, this is no different.
And even though it never goes away, the gun control debate will rage to new levels. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said at a press conference earlier tonight, “All the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally, all the weapons he possessed, he possessed legally, all the clips he possessed, he possessed legally.” Thomas wrote about a recent run-in he had with the gun control debate a few weeks ago, but this is a new can of worms. Everything before the conference was pure speculation but with the artillery’s origins confirmed, I’d hate to be on the anti-gun control side of things. How can anyone still say that stricter gun laws aren’t needed after this? But then again, how can anyone say that after Columbine and 2 separate shootings at Virginia Tech? Ultimately, even if stronger gun laws are put into place in the future, I still believe it will be way too easy for anyone to get a weapon. And even harder for the gun control debate to end.
I started writing this before work but I didn’t quite finish it before it was time to get on the road. I wasn’t sure what kind of reactions I would hear from my co-workers. I heard a few talking about DKR itself as they had attended midnight showings. Two other people actually brought up the shooting and we talked briefly about how insane it was. The only other discussion I heard about it was from two customers who were chatting in the middle of an aisle. I’m not sure if people didn’t know or if they chose to not care. And while working was a nice break from the tragedy, I wasn’t home 10 minutes before I was digging for new details. I guess it’s just the reporter in me.
I’m not sure what will come to the forefront in the next few days. While the victims should always be the main focus of a story, in today’s media, that just won’t be the case. The shooter’s name will be repeated in countless forms of media, perhaps helping him achieve his reasoning for the act in the first place. The Dark Knight Rises will get some unneeded publicity but the public will continue to file into theaters, although smaller numbers are expected. And people all over the world will debate the gun control issue. Whether anyone tries to pass new laws in response remains to be seen.
So while I’m on the east coast, rambling about a breaking story because I felt the need to, family members of 70 victims aren’t even 24 hours removed from the violence. All I can hope is that they and the community of Aurora are able to pick up the pieces of their lives and find some peace in the fact that the shooter was apprehended.