'Twilight' flick's $139.5 million weekend puts it in the record books, with 'Happy Feet Two' at a distant second.
By Ryan J. Downey
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" Photo: Summit Entertainment
"Twilight" fans raced to theaters faster than Jacob running to stop Bella and Edward's wedding and gave "Breaking Dawn - Part 1" the fifth-biggest opening weekend of all time.
The fourth film in the romantic vampires-and-werewolves phenomenon collected $139.5 million domestically (more than $30 million of which was from midnight showings early Friday) for an estimated $283.5 million worldwide haul.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" stands behind only "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" ($169.2 million), "The Dark Knight" ($158.4 million), "Spider-Man 3" ($151.1 million) and 2009's "New Moon" ($169.2 million) on the all-time opening-weekend scorecard. It's worth noting that the "Twilight" grosses haven't relied on pricier 3-D or IMAX tickets like "Potter" or "Dark Knight." The new movie's numbers were within roughly 2 percent of the "New Moon" franchise best and helped propel the series' overall numbers past $2 billion worldwide.
Of the 54 territories where the movie opened in nearly 10,000 venues, the best market outside North America for "Breaking Dawn" was Robert Pattinson's native U.K., which accounted for $22 million of the worldwide gross. Strong territories also included Russia ($15 million), France ($14.5 million), Australia ($12.2 million), Italy ($12 million), Spain ($11.6 million) and Brazil ($10.2 million), where some of the film was shot.
Director Bill Condon's first "Twilight" movie suffered the worst reviews of the generally critically panned series but collected a so-so "B+" CinemaScore from the fans who rushed out to see it ("New Moon" enjoyed an "A-" CinemaScore while "Eclipse" scored a straight "A"). The acclaimed filmmaker behind critical darlings "Gods and Monsters," "Kinsey" and two-time Oscar winner "Dreamgirls" will helm "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" as well, which adapts the second half of Stephenie Meyer's fourth and final "Twilight" book. "Part 2" is due in theaters next year and will, of course, star Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner, alongside the rest of the "Saga" regulars.
"Breaking Dawn - Part 1" cost Summit Entertainment a reported $110 million to produce after tax rebates. By comparison, the first "Twilight" film was made for an estimated $37 million. The "Breaking Dawn" audience was about 80 percent female, according to Summit, but 50 percent of the crowd was older than 25. Comparatively, only 46 percent of the "Eclipse" audience was over 25.
"Happy Feet Two" was a distant second to "Breaking Dawn" over the weekend, earning just $22 million in its debut. The animated sequel suffered from poor reviews and a five-year gap since the original. Last weekend's #1 movie, "Immortals," was #3 with $12.2 million. Adam Sandler's critically reviled "Jack and Jill" was #4 with $12 million. "Puss in Boots" rounded out the top five with another $10.7 million for an impressive $122.3 million gross. The "Shrek" spin-off has enjoyed mostly positive reviews from critics too.
While all other movies at the box office were dwarfed by the success of "Twilight," there was one category where the second-to-last entry in the franchise suffered defeat: per-screen average. "The Descendants," which has already generated Oscar buzz for star George Clooney, opened in just 29 theaters but managed to clear $1.29 million. That's an average of $42,150 per location. "Breaking Dawn," by comparison, was available in 4,061 places, which equates to an average of $34,245 per location. "Descendants" also counts a book (about a man who learns of his wife's affair as she lays in a coma from a boating accident) as its source material. It's only the fifth directorial feature from writer/director Alexander Payne, whose filmography includes "Sideways," "About Schmidt" and "Election."
This weekend, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" will see competition from Jason Segel's spirited and reverential revival of "The Muppets" (which currently boasts a perfect 100 score on film review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes); iconic filmmaker Martin Scorsese's 3-D adventure "Hugo"; and kids' flick "Arthur Christmas," among others. Horror master David Cronenberg's period drama "A Dangerous Method" and Oscar bait "My Week With Marilyn," which stars Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, open in limited release.