LOS ANGELES (AP):
The Dark Knight Rises has finally fallen out of first place at the weekend box office.
Jeremy Renner's action tale The Bourne Legacy took over as the No. 1 movie with a US$40.3 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis' political comedy The Campaign opened at No. 2 with US$27.4 million.
The new movies pushed The Dark Knight Rises down to third place with US$19.5 million, raising the superhero blockbuster's three-week domestic total to US$390.1 million.
The weekend's other new wide release, Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones' marital comic drama Hope Springs, opened at No. 4 with US$15.6 million.
The Dark Knight Rises had been the No. 1 movie for three straight weekends since debuting amid tragedy as a gunman killed 12 people and wounded 58 at a midnight screening of the film on opening day in Colorado.
The violence seems to have had little effect on the runaway success of the Batman finale.
"The opening weekend in our business is very important, and this incident took place before the picture officially opened. It took place at a midnight screening. I can't give you an actual number, but I'm sure we were affected on that opening," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros, which released The Dark Knight Rises.
Universal's The Bourne Legacy casts Renner and Rachel Weisz in an offshoot of the three hits that starred Matt Damon as unstoppable operative Jason Bourne. Renner plays an agent pursued by Bourne's old spymasters after they try to snuff out the espionage programme in a cover-up conspiracy.
The Bourne Legacy came in well behind the US$69.3 million debut of Damon's last entry in the series, 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum. But the new film had a strong start and establishes Renner as a sturdy frontman to keep the franchise running.
"I love the fact that we were able to reboot this and do as well as we were able to. It leaves it open for us to think about it going forward," said Nikki Rocco, Universal's head of distribution. "We are very much into what it's going to look like the next time."
While Damon was absent, his presence is felt throughout The Bourne Legacy, with characters commenting on Jason Bourne sightings and his former handlers jittery over the fact that the rogue agent is still out there.
Renner is a bankable star to carry on solo, but Universal might really cash in if the studio manages to lure Damon back.
"The dream-team scenario of a 'Bourne' with both Damon and Renner would just be irresistible," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com.
"That would be cool. I'd be first in line for that."
The Campaign stars Ferrell and Galifianakis as rivals in a mud-slinging congressional election. Distributor Warner Bros hopes real-life politics can help keep the movie afloat as the election season enters the home stretch.
"We hope so," Warner distribution boss Fellman said. "We hope they run their campaigns a little more professionally than the one in the movie, but sometimes, you have to wonder."
Sony's Hope Springs, featuring Streep and Jones as a couple in marriage therapy at a week-long retreat, had a modest start but drew strongly among older women, a crowd that does not tend to rush out in big numbers over opening weekend.
Rory Bruer, Sony's head of distribution, said the studio hopes the film will have a long shelf life at theatres as women talk it up to friends.
The Dark Knight Rises is nearing $400 million domestically and will become only the second film in Warner Bros history to reach that mark. The first was 2008's The Dark Knight, the middle chapter in director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, which topped out at US$533.3 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com.