‘Breaking Dawn – Part 1′ Is Our #2 Newsmaker Of 2011

Penultimate 'Twilight' film was about more than just Bella and Edward's first time.

One doesn’t need Alice Cullen’s powers of prognostication to foretell fang-tastic returns for “The Twilight Saga.”

Four years in, and the success of the franchise is a foregone conclusion. To wit, the penultimate film in the series, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” has grossed more than $600 million worldwide since its November release and even set a new record by becoming the first installment to top the box office three weekends in a row. And it also landed at #2 on MTV News’ Top Newsmakers of 2011 list, falling short only to Lady Gaga.

It’d be tempting to chalk up this particular installment’s massive appeal to one little (though very loaded) word: sex. As any avowed Twilighter will tell you, “Breaking Dawn – Part 1″ marks the first time Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) do it, a titillating plot point that Summit Entertainment’s marketing department took full advantage of. In fact, the very first promotional image for the flick, released in late 2010, was a close-cropped photo of Bella clutching a fistful of rogue feathers that had escaped a pillow during the couple’s first romp. Then there was that much-talked-about publicity still released in January, showing a moodily lit Bella and Edward in flagrante. And, of course, the topic was a hot talking point during the film’s many promotional stops.

“It’s not just human sex. It’s … obviously blown a little bit out of proportion, slightly. It’s kind of like the most important scene in the movie. It’s so weird,” Stewart told MTV News during “MTV First: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.”

For co-star Pattinson, the discussion reached near-absurd levels. “It is kind of disgusting,” he said with a laugh during the “Breaking Dawn – Part 1″ red carpet. “It’s weird. I feel like I’m going a little bit crazy.”

“Crazy” certainly describes the level of fan frenzy surrounding this pivotal scene, but as riveting as flying feathers and breaking headboards can be, “Breaking Dawn – Part 1″ was about more than just sex. It marked the realization of Bella’s — and the audience’s — hopes and dreams for the mortal and the immortal who loved her. The couple walked down the aisle, as friends and family (and author Stephenie Meyer) watched, with tears in their eyes and love in their hearts. The two consummated their relationship, in the process conceiving a baby they didn’t think possible. (Even vampires can achieve the American dream, it seems.) And, in the film’s closing moments, near death, Bella becomes what she had always wanted to be: a vampire who could spend eternity with her soul mate.

Though Twilighters have one final film to look forward to in 2012, it’s hard not to feel some sense of finality as Forks’ fictional residents achieve these rites of passage. The monumentality certainly wasn’t lost on the actors. “It was very, very emotional for me,” Stewart said of shooting the wedding scene.

Saying goodbye is hard to do, but thankfully, we have 11 months to work up the courage.

MTV continues our Best of 2011 coverage by looking back at the biggest pop-culture stories of the year. As we count down the newsmakers that mattered to you most, also check out our Best Artists , Best Songs , Best MTV Live Performances and Best EDM Artists of 2011.