"New Moon" had the biggest opening weekend of any films in "The Twilight Saga" when it opened to $142.8 million in 2009. But as the epic series draws to a close riding a crest of pop-culture relevance, that record could easily be shattered this weekend with the arrival of "Breaking Dawn - Part 2."
How big of a bite will the final "Twilight" film take out of the box office? The final "Harry Potter" film, "Deathly Hallows, Part 2," smashed the franchise's record when it debuted to $169 million. The eight-part "Harry Potter" series has made more than $2.4 billion worldwide, while the first four films in "The Twilight Saga" have racked up $1.1 billion.
Fandango.com reported that 92 percent of ticket sales on Thursday were for the final installment of the franchise that made stars out of Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner. "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" is the best reviewed of the entire series, with a (still rotten) 56 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes at press time. ("New Moon" had a series low of 28 percent.) "Part 2" opened in theaters at 10 p.m. on Thursday, which is a couple of hours earlier than the last installment, which opened at midnight on a Friday.
Box-office experts predicted "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" will crack the top 10 biggest openings list. "It's doubtful it will see a $44 million injection between final installments like 'Harry Potter,' but 'Part 2' will easily surpass the $138 million opening of 'Part 1,'" said Jeff Bock, box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. "In 4,070 theaters, expect $150 million plus, which would place it #7 on the best openings of all time list."
Speaking of all-time lists, last weekend's "Skyfall" posted the biggest debut of any James Bond film, even when adjusted for ticket price inflation. "Breaking Dawn" will of course knock Daniel Craig's latest turn as 007 from the top spot, but it should still take in upwards of $40 million. "For most films, that would be a great opening weekend," noted Bock. MovieFanatic.com's Joel Amos suggested "Skyfall" could return to #1 Thanksgiving weekend.
Disney Animation will continue to have the kids' market cornered for a few more days with "Wreck-It Ralph," which should collect another $20 million or so as the arcade-themed cartoon braces for the arrival of "Rise of the Guardians" on November 26.
Amid the romantic/vampiric saga, the action/espionage thrills of Her Majesty's most famous spy and the modern-but-vintage animated romp, there's plenty of period of drama and award-bait fare for audiences this weekend, too, including Stephen Spielberg's "Lincoln," which will expand into wider release. "Expect Disney to spin their straw polls into gold and stump up $15 million in 1,775 theaters," Bock said of the 13th Amendment drama. "Expect 'Lincoln' to be a slow burn, but if awards nominations are showered upon it, this could easily end up being the #1 Lincoln film of the year, surpassing 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,' which has taken in $114 million worldwide so far."
Amos noted there will also be "two movies debuting in limited release that have the potential to do strong per-screen business." IMDB.com's Keith Simanton predicted that "Silver Linings Playbook" "should begin its long, garland-strewn march to the Oscars, including a Best Picture nom and maybe a Best Director, Actor and Actress nod as well." The "Pride and Prejudice" team of Joe Wright and Keira Knightly reunited for another literary adaptation, "Anna Karenina," which Simanton said "will begin its long, polite applause march to nominations in the technical award categories."
Check out everything we've got on "Breaking Dawn - Part2."