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Warner Bros. grapples with Colo. shooting

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Workers dismantle an installation setup for the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises", scheduled to be held Friday night in Paris, Friday, July 20, 2012, which has been canceled after a gunman killed 12 people at a Colorado opening of the same film, The night before in a Denver suburb, a man wearing a gas mask released an unknown gas into a crowded movie theater and opened fire. Twelve people were killed and at least 50 wounded. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
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NEW YORK >> The movie industry grappled with the deadly Colorado shooting at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” as one of the most anticipated films in years became enmeshed with a horrifying tragedy.

The shooting, which killed 12 and left nearly 60 injured in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, reverberated through Hollywood and upended carefully laid plans for the global release of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Warner Bros. quickly canceled a premiere planned for Paris and canceled press interviews in France.

“Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident,” read a statement from Warner Bros. “We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones and those affected by this tragedy.”

New York City’s police commissioner said he was told the gunman had painted his hair red and called himself the Joker — Batman’s nemesis — but Aurora police would not confirm that.

The studio was rushing to react to the tragedy. Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros, said he had been up since 4 a.m. making calls.

“Everybody is very saddened by the event. We were obviously looking for a very happy occasion for us,” Fellman said. “It’s a difficult way to begin. We’re 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. Director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Warner Bros. did move to pull trailers for its upcoming movie “Gangster Squad” from showings of “The Dark Knight Rises.” The trailer of the film, which stars Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling in a ruthless war between ’40s Los Angeles police and the mob, includes a scene of mobsters firing into a movie theater from behind the screen.

A person familiar with what was shown at the Aurora theater said the trailer did not play there. The person did not want to be identified because the person was not authorized to speak on the matter.

Cinemark Holdings, Inc., the chain that owns the theater where the shooting happened, said it was working closely with local law enforcement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and loved ones, our employees, and the Aurora community,” the company said.

Movie theaters around the country continued Friday showings of the film as planned, though some were stepping up security. New York police commissioner Raymond Kelly said the city was providing an extra security in New York theaters playing “The Dark Knight Rises” ”as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons.”

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