BREAKING NEWS! SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Twilight Saga moviemaker Summit Entertainment said this morning that NEW MOON opened with a phenomenal performance of a gargantuan $140.7 million first weekend in North America and, $118.1M from 25 international markets from Wednesday through Sunday, and a worldwide 5-day total of $258.8M. These numbers may change as Sunday actuals come in Monday.
The Twilight sequel’s vampires and werewolves shattered the All-Time 3rd Biggest Opening Weekend record of $135.6M, as well as the All-Time Single Day and Friday Opening records. It also set the record for Biggest 2-Day Total with $115.9M, passing The Dark Knight’s 2-day take of $114.8M. It was the Biggest November Opening in history besting Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire‘s $102.7M. (See below for details.)
Hollywood was stunned as night after night the New Moon numbers kept breaking even four-quadrant Dark Knight and Harry Potter film records. Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight Saga” novels — New Moon is the second in the series — are now proving as much of a phenomenon as comic books and J.K. Rowling for source material at the box office. And two-quadrant New Moon also has shown that when female audiences support a film, it can absolutely dominate box office. (With the audience exactly split under and over age 21, exit polling showed that 80% were female.)
The pic is confirmed to have debuted to $72.7 million Friday from 4,024 North American theaters. This shattered both previous All-Time Friday and Single Day records of $67 million set by 2008’s The Dark Knight. Friday’s total included New Moon’s $26.27M in 12:01AM screenings from 3,514 theaters. That set a new midnight opening record, smashing The Dark Knight‘s $18.4M set on July 18, 2008, and Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince‘s $22.2M set on July 15, 2009.
Clearly the pic’s “A-” CinemaScore helped mitigate the weekend drops. Saturday’s grosses went down a less than expected -40% for $43.2M, and another -40% is anticipated for Sunday. The total $140.7M number won’t break the all-time opening domestic weekend record set by The Dark Knight of $158.4M in 2008 or by Spider-Man 3 of $151.M in 2007. But it does jump into the No. 3 spot previously held by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest with $135.6M in 2006. All three of those movies were released in the summer, unlike New Moon which also scored the biggest Non-Summer Friday-Saturday-Sunday (3-Day) Weekend opening ever. (Note that none of these numbers have been adjusted for inflation or higher ticket costs or theater counts.) Amazing, especially since Hollywood thought New Moon might, repeat might, do Iron Man numbers of around $100M.
New Moon also smashed the $36M earned by Twilight on its first Friday exactly a year ago. (Thursday night, Summit re-issued Twilight in 2,057 theaters and took in $1.3M.) Twilight’s opening weekend total was $69.7M.
According to Fandango, New Moon was trending to sell more than 10 tickets per second on the site throughout the course of Friday. Last week, both Fandango and MovieTickets.com said New Moon became No. 1 on their list of the Top 10 Advance Ticket Sellers of All Time (unseating the Batman, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings franchises). Here’s how:
Although Summit switched up directors, from Catherine Hardwicke to Chris Weitz, it kept screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and of course the principal cast: heartthrobs Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, and Kristin Stewart. And, always, the filmmakers pandered to the fans inbetween the time that Twilight left theaters and New Moon began filming. When the New Moon trailer was released online, it scored 5.8 million views in the first 24 hours, demonstrating the fans’ pent-up demand. Right before the latest in the franchise was released, Summit marketed New Moon with a 15-city cast tour in shopping malls and NYC’s Times Square. On Thursday and Friday, anecdotal reports were streaming in to me about gargantuan lines at United States and Canada theaters crowded with female tweens, teens, their mothers, and generally women over the age of 25. Moviegoers are also said to include boys and men, but to a much lesser extent. The Twi-Hards were playing Twilight trivia games, wearing Twilight T-shirts, reading Twilight Saga novels, and even doing homework while on line in their Team Edward or Team Jacob sweatshirts and movie costumes.
Internationally, New Moon will play in 75 territories total, rolling out from Wednesday through Sunday in 25 markets and maxing out by mid-December. This is said to be the tightest independent worldwide release ever. It rolled out overseas to a big start, opening Wednesday in France to $4.4 million, which was nearly four times the $1.2 million earned there on the first day of Twilight.
Yes, there were other movies opening and playing in North America. According to my sources, Alcon Entertainment’s well reviewed and truly heartwarming newcomer based on a true story about rookie Baltimore Ravens player Michael Oher, The Blind Side was a huge No. 2. Based on the book by Michael Lewis and distributed by Warner Bros, it features some of Sandra Bullock’s best on-screen work. This is also her 3rd film released this year, and her biggest opening weekend. (June’s The Proposal made $33.6M.) The pic scored a rare “A+” CinemaScore. Even rival studios admitted the movie “hits that uniquely American chord.” It opened to $10.9 million Friday and $15M Saturday (+28%) from 3,110 dates for an overperforming $34.5M weekend thanks to all the New Moon frenzy at the box office. The movie sure blind-sided Hollywood which expected it to do only $20M tops!
No. 3 was holdover 2012, the mega-disaster pic from Roland Emmerich (who’s a 25% gross proft participant on the budget buster that came in somewhere between a budget of $200M-$325M). “It actually held fine on the worst night it will face,” a Sony exec told me about Friday’s -65% domestic drop from a week ago for $8.1M from 3,408 plays. But it bounced back Saturday for $11.6M and $26.5M weekend. Its new North American cume to date is $108.2, and its worldwide total is now more than $449.8M in its first 12 days of release.
At No. 4, Columbia/Sony’s Planet 51 animated comedy limped in for just a $3.0M Friday opening and $5.5M Saturday (+77%)from 3,035 venues. It made for a $12.6M first weekend for the debut motion picture film from Ilion Animation Studios despite an aggressive TV ad campaign.
In 5th place, Disney’s A Christmas Carol hangs in for its 3rd weekend with $3.5M Friday and $5.5M Saturday from 3,578 theaters for a $12.2M weekend and fresh cume of $79.5M.
At No. 6, Lionsgate’s Oscar-touted Precious: Based On The Novel “Push” By Sapphire expanded its theater count again to 629 runs for a $3.5M Friday and $4.8M Saturday (+36%). The critical hit promoted by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry as well as George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara is officially a box office hit as well as it racks up what’s an $11M weekend for a new $21.9M cume even after playing in very limited release until now.
No. 7 was The Men Who Stare At Goats (entering its 3rd week) from Overture which made $2.7M from 2,056 dates. No. 8 was Universal’s Couples Retreat (7th week) with $1.9M from 1,712 plays. No. 9 was The Fourth Kind (3rd week), also from Universal, with $1.7M from 1,648 runs. And, rounding out the Top 10, Overture’s Law Abiding Citizen (6th week) with $1.6M from 1,327 theaters.
I’m told that this weekend’s top 6 films alone could total $237M. All the films add up to the 2nd biggest non-holiday weekend ever, behind 2008 Dark Knight summer weekend total of $260M. It’s also the biggest non-summer weekend total, beating 2005 Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire’s weekend total of $180M. Wow!
FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Summit Entertainment just announced its New Moon debuted with $26.27M in 12:01AM screenings from 3,514 theaters. That sets a new midnight opening record, smashing The Dark Knight‘s $18.4M on July 18, 2008, and Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince‘s $22.2M on July 15, 2009. (Summit’s re-release of Twilight Thursday night in 2,057 dates made $1.3M.)
THURSDAY PM: I’ve learned tonight from rival studios that Summit Entertainment’s New Moon could break the all-time midnight opening record for a motion picture as it opens across North America in 3,514 theaters at 12:01 AM Friday. But can it really beat Dark Knight & Harry Potter 6?
The vampire and werewolf pic may also smash the all-time biggest single day and biggest Friday opening records, too, if it continues on a roll. The frenzy means New Moon could topple all those opening day records set by Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight in 2008 & Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince this past summer. The Twilight sequel’s presales already outdid the rebooted Batman sequel’s, and those had been the #2 all-time box office winner. Indie studio Summit isn’t reporting any midnight estimates tonight, so the majors have been trying to track the grosses with a mixture of fear and envy to see how New Moon will start its North American debut weekend.
“This pic is doing phenomenal. It’s breaking records,” one rival studio exec gushed to me at 5 PM PT Thursday night. “It’s ahead of Dark Knight. It could break every existing record for Friday. But Saturday will be a different story.” That is quite a statement.
Dark Knight scored the 2nd biggest midnight preview gross with $18.4 million in 3,040 theaters when it opened. It went on to debut $67M its first day. But then the Batman pic dropped 29% from Friday to Saturday, when it made $47.6M, and then did $43.6M Sunday, for a total $158.4M from July 18-20, 2008. Twilight, the New Moon prequel, had a big 49% drop from Friday to Saturday, and rival studios are predicting the same drop for New Moon this weekend because of its 2-quadrant appeal.
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