With the six-day, holiday-weekend domestic box-office gross of "Eclipse" on the books — officially $176.4 million — the numbers conversation of the moment turned to one tricky question: Would the latest installment of the "Twilight" franchise ultimately defeat "New Moon" and its $296.6 million haul last year?
Inside the halls of Summit Entertainment, executives are confident that "Eclipse" — though it fell just short of the six-day total of "New Moon" — will eventually rank as the top-grossing "Twilight" film. At least, that is, until the first part of "Breaking Dawn" drops in November 2011.
"I think we have a real good shot at it after this first week," Summit's distribution head Richie Fay told MTV News. "We're not disappointed in this gross at all. It's where we expected to be, and it hopefully gets us north of 'New Moon.' "
Potentially helping Summit get there is the idea that a summer release date, at a time when schools are no longer trapping Twilighters in math class, will increase weekday grosses. But it's not entirely clear that such a tactic is working out. "Eclipse" grossed over $10 million this Tuesday, according to Fay, which is roughly what "New Moon," which opened on a Friday, took in on the Monday after its opening weekend.
Of course, conclusions cannot be drawn after just one day, and exact comparisons are difficult to make in general, owing to the different seasons and days of each film's release. After seven days, "New Moon" and "Eclipse" are roughly equal in terms of total box-office sales.
The key will be to see how "Eclipse" fares in the next few days and how it performs in its second weekend. "New Moon" was a notoriously frontloaded release — earning 48 percent of its total gross on its opening weekend — and dropped 70 percent during its second weekend. If "Eclipse" can bump sales this week and avoid a precipitous second-weekend drop, the film will be well on its way to topping "New Moon."
Yet at Summit, the focus is not so much on a race to first place as it is on a continued dedication to serving a fervid fanbase. "If we lost the audience to some degree over the weekend to barbecues and fireworks, they will probably come back," Fay said. "It's kind of like a tsunami audience. As soon as they've finished viewing 'New Moon' in the theaters, then the DVD comes out, and right after that, 'Eclipse' comes out. We're servicing that audience very nicely."
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