"Twilight" fans came out in force Friday and made sure "Breaking Dawn" broke records.
"The Twilight Saga" may be drawing to a close, but there's nothing close to a slowdown at the box office. Estimates put the Friday numbers for the second-to-last entry in the series at $138 million around the world, as "Breaking Dawn" rolled out in 54 global markets. The domestic box office received a welcome 11 percent boost from the same period last year, thanks to the legions of "Twilight" fans.
Midnight showings helped propel "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" past "The Dark Knight," "Transformers" and most of the "Potter" movies in the all-time opening-day box-office record books. "Breaking Dawn - Part 1" enjoyed the third-highest opening day ever with a projected $72 million in domestic receipts, according to studio estimates. The first part of Edward, Bella and Jacob's final chapter together didn't manage to beat the opening day of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" or 2009's "New Moon," but it was a close race between the "Twilight" films. "New Moon" opened with $72.7 million, and final calculations could change the outcome between the two.
"Twilight" fans who endured long lines for midnight showings accounted for $30.25 million of the "Breaking Dawn" first day-number. Based on the receipts thus far, industry watchers predict an opening weekend in the $140 million range, which is more than Summit Entertainment's conservative projections. That would give the latest "Twilight" the fifth-highest opening weekend ever behind "Deathly Hallows, Part 2," "The Dark Knight," "Spider-Man 3" and "New Moon." "Eclipse" opened with $68.5 million; the first "Twilight" debuted with $36 million.
Critics savaged director Bill Condon's first foray into Stephenie Meyer territory, but audiences have told a different story. "Breaking Dawn - Part 1" scored a paltry 27 percent on film review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences have given it a B+ CinemaScore. "Eclipse" and the first film remain tied as the best-reviewed in the series, with 49 percent each on the Tomatometer.
As expected, nothing else in theaters had anything close to the momentum of the continuing "Twilight" phenomenon. Despite additional revenue from 3-D showings, "Happy Feet 2" opened with less than half of the previous movie's first day in 2006. The animated feature (which once again features the voice of "The Lord of the Rings" star Elijah Wood) took in just $5.9 million, according to studio estimates.
Last weekend's #1 movie, "Immortals," was down 74 percent with $3.82 million. That decline is much worse than comparable swords-and-sandals action pictures like "300" and "Clash of the Titans." The horribly reviewed Adam Sandler vehicle "Jack and Jill" made $3.5 million in its second Friday in theaters. "Puss in Boots" dropped steeply but has earned well over $100 million in the last few weeks.
Well over a decade ago, the big box-office story started with a T as well: "Titanic" was on its way to become the highest-grossing movie of all time (later surpassed by "Avatar") and the heartthrob generating all the heat was Leonardo DiCaprio, not Robert Pattinson. Nowadays, the 37-year-old actor and philanthropist is all grown up and starring in director Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" biopic. The limited-release period drama dropped 58 percent on its second Friday and has generated an estimated $16.6 million thus far. The movie certainly wasn't conceived as a blockbuster. DiCaprio still has summer-movie clout: "Inception" has grossed nearly $300 million since it was released in July 2010.
Check out everything we've got on "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1."
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