SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 8TH UPDATE: Oh sure, you’re too cool (or too male) for the Twilight Saga global phenom. But Summit Entertainment’s Breaking Dawn Part 1 is shattering the four-month-old North American box office slump and shooting the overall moviegoing weekend of $222 million up +14% from last year’s total. Hollywood should be grateful to females young and old for keeping the business buoyed this weekend now that young males have abandoned indiscriminate moviegoing. (Seriously, give thanks early.)
Here is the Top 10 rundown. Full analysis later:

1. Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Summit) NEW [4,061 Theaters]
Friday $72M, Saturday $40.7M, Weekend $139.5M

Yowza! Summit Entertainment was cautiously optimistic that this fourth Twilight Saga installment Breaking Dawn Part 1 could break records. It recorded the 5th best opening weekend of all time, the 3rd best-ever Single Day and Friday opening, and the 2nd best midnight debut. Despite director Bill Condon receiving the worst reviews of the franchise, audiences gave it a ‘B+’ CinemaScore, with females bestowing an ‘A-‘. Also, the penultimate pic based on Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance novels soared internationally as it rolled out in 54 markets around the globe with $144M from Wednesday through Sunday screenings. The global total is now $283.5M. This installment had a budget of $110M budget, the buggest of the franchise. The fact that Breaking Dawn couldn’t exceed New Moon‘s numbers ($142.8M domestic, $296.6M global) isn’t dampening Summit’s relief one bit. Given the dismal state of box office for the past four months, the studio saw that its Twilight Saga is as popular as ever, grossing over $1 billion in international alone to date.

2. Happy Feet Two (Warner Bros) NEW [3,606 Theaters]
Friday $5.9M, Saturday $9.3M, Weekend $22M

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Given how well family fare is doing at the North American box office these days, the real test for this 3D sequel to George Miller’s beloved 2D toon will be over Thanksgiving weekend. But for now Happy Feet Two is grossing only half of the 2006 original, which opened to a $41.5 weekend. “One word: disaster. Despite being in 3D,” a rival studio exec snarked to me. But another noted, “No doubt all the families are waiting until next week to go to the movies.” Pic released on the anniversary of the original and received a ‘B+’ CinemaScore from audiences. Hollywood expected an opening in the high $30sM. Nope. Not even close. And next week The Muppets movie debuts so more competition for the tots and their parents. On the other hand, singing and dancing CGI penguins are hard to resist.

3. Immortals (Relativity) Week 2 [3,120 Theaters]
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $5.1M, Weekend $12.2M (-62%), Cume $52.9M

That’s an unfortunate drop for a 300-clone that underperformed last Friday. Immortals is not the Hail Mary that Relativity hoped it would be.

4. Jack And Jill (Sony) Week 2 [3,438 Theaters]
Friday $3.5M, Saturday $5.2M, Weekend $12M (-52%), Cume $41M

This Jack And Jill won’t have the usual gazillion multiple of most of Adam Sandler/Happy Madison comedies.

5. Puss In Boots (DreamWorks Animation/Par) Week 4 [3,415 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $5M, Weekend $10.7M, Cume $122.3M

This toon cat Puss In Boots still has a few more than nine lives left.

6. Tower Heist (Universal) Week 3 [2,942 Theaters]
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.2M, Weekend $6.9M, Cume $53.3M

7. J. Edgar (Warner Bros) Week 2 [1,947 Theaters]
Friday $1.8M (-57%), Saturday $2.6M, Weekend $5.9M (-47%), Cume $20.6M

8. Harold & Kumar 3D Xmas (NL/Warner Bros) Week 3 [1,808 Theaters]
Friday $915K, Saturday $1.2M, Estimated Weekend $2.9M, Cume $28.3M

9. In Time (Fox) Week 3 [2,591 Theaters]
Friday $520K, Saturday $750K, Estimated Weekend $1.6M, Estimated Cume $33.4M

10. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) NEW (opened Wed) [29 Theaters]
Friday $318K, Saturday $493K, Weekend $1.2M, Cume $1.3M

Alexander Payne’s dramedy starring George Clooney had good momentum heading into its opening weekend expansion into 11 additional markets (including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, San Diego, Denver, Minneapolis, and Toronto). Fox Searchlight’s The Descendants had made $79K from Wednesday and Thursday grosses at 5 theaters (2 in NY and 3 in LA) and this weekend scored an outstanding $42,150 per screen average. The production budget was $20 million with tax rebates and the Academy Awards talk should help the film perform through March. “This comedy/drama is attracting the over-30 upscale audience who is aware of the terrific reviews we have received,” a Fox Searchlight exec tells me. “And exhibition is very excited about the film after seeing it at the Show East Convention in late October.” On Wednesday before Thanksgiving, The Descendants increases to over 60 markets and about 425 theaters. “We feel the Thanksgiving Holiday is an excellent time to be playing wider as it is counter programming to the 3 wide kids films opening on this date. At Searchlight, we fell it really is a marathon and not a race with our releases.”

The initial marketing campaign was launched virally in early May with a web teaser called “Who is he?” which consisted only of a scene from the film with George Clooney goofily running to his neighbor’s house to ask – you guessed it – “Who is he?” Then, at the end of May, Searchlight launched The Descendants trailer on The Tree Of Life linking auteur filmmakers Alexander Payne and Terrence Malick and continued through the summer and into the fall. The film was an audience and critical favorite when it premiered at the 2011 Telluride Film Festival, and the buzz carried over into The Toronto Film Festival. The film went on to play over 15 more festivals including New York and London. Searchlight is now working with various museums and film societies across the county to set Alexander Payne retrospectives and to target urban art house cinefiles initially and eventually upscale suburbanites over Thanksgiving and through December.

The project was developed with Ad Hominem, which is Payne’s and writer/producer Jim Taylor’s and producer Jim Burke’s production company. (OSCARS: Jim Burke & Jim Taylor Give Birth To Alexander Payne’s ‘The Descendants’) Stephen Frears was initially attached to direct. When Frears departed, Payne went back to the original book written by Kaui Hart Hemmings and began writing his own adaptation of the screenplay after original drafts were penned by Jim Rash and Nat Faxon. Payne flew to 2009’s Toronto Film Festival to meet with Clooney who was there for Up In The Air. The Oscar buzz began with the sellouts of the special screenings and tribute to George Clooney at Telluride.

FRIDAY 5 PM, 4TH UPDATE: Summit Entertainment sources tell me that Breaking Dawn Part 1 is softening slightly tonight for a $70 million opening day. So now this fourth Twilight Saga feature is targeting $135M for its debut weekend. That will be the 2nd biggest weekend debut since the studio began making Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance novels into films — behind only the Twilight sequel New Moon‘s $142.8M. That’s about halfway between what Summit lowballed and what rival studios highballed Breaking Dawn‘s grosses would be. Stay tuned for more updates…

FRIDAY 2:30 PM, 3RD UPDATE: Summit Entertainment’s Breaking Dawn Part 1 is shattering Hollywood’s box office slump today. My sources say this fourth film version of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga vampire novels is looking at opening to $72+ million in North American grosses, consisting of $42+M for matinee and evening screenings in 4,061 theaters, plus $30.25M for 12:01 PM post-midnight showings in 3,521 locations. Right now Breaking Dawn may wind up with the franchise best one-day and Friday opening, surging past Twilight‘s $36M, New Moon‘s $72.7M, and Eclipse‘s $68.5M. Stay tuned for more updates.

FRIDAY 9:30 AM, 2ND UPDATE: Critics may be ravaging Summit Entertainment’s Breaking Dawn Part 1 but the fans are loving it. Overnight, the film version of the Stephenie Meyer novel made $30.25M from 12:01 AM post-midnight showings in a whopping 3,521 theaters. That’s a best for the Twilight Saga franchise (Twilight made 7.5M which set a record at that time, New Moon $26.3M, and Eclipse $30.1M.) But it also sets the #2 all-time midnights record behind Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2.

FRIDAY 7 AM UPDATE: Here we go again. Not only is Summit Entertainment’s Breaking Dawn Part 1 helping surge the North American box office today after a months-lasting slump. But it’s also a big shot in the arm to international ticket sales. The Twilight Saga film franchise’s fourth installment rolled out after 12:01 AM into a whopping 3,251 domestic theaters and then expanded into 4,061 theaters by midday. And the film is off to a great start internationally as it started its roll out in 54 markets around the globe with Wednesday screenings from select territories totalling $8.9 million with many more countries, data and their grosses to come over the coming days. I’ve learned that an internal Summit Entertainment estimate puts this weekend’s domestic opening of Breaking Dawn Part 1 at $110 million to $125 million. That will be the 2nd biggest weekend debut since the studio began making Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance novels into films — behind only the Twilight sequel New Moon. However, rival studios think Summit is lowballing and expect Breaking Dawn to debut to $142+M. And remember this is a female-driven 2D movie. It’s the 3D fanboy-driven movies that have been so hurt by slumping box office of late.

Since the franchise began, Twilight opened domestically  to $69.6M in 2008, New Moon to $142.8M in 2009, Eclipse to $64.8M in 2010.  Summit projected in an investor prospectus obtained by every showbiz media outlet that it would make $228 profit from Breaking Dawn, and that the final back to back films in the franchise would generate more than $1.2 billion in revenues and $447 million in profits for the studio and its investors. Yowza!

Also rolling out this weekend into 3,606 theaters, with 2,800 3D screens, is Warner Bros family fare Happy Feet Two. The sequel also from director George Miller is releasing on the anniversary of the original, which grossed $41.5M in 2D on November 17 of 2006. “This Happy Feet Two feels like it will have to work to get to that figure despite being in 3D,” a rival studio exec tells me. Hollywood expects a weekend opening in the high $30sM which is good enough in these slumping times. “The strong schedule of family films this past summer gave us an ideal launch for the campaign, starting with a teaser trailer on Kung Fu Panda on Memorial Day weekend, and playing through on films ranging from Harry Potter to Smurfs, with the main trailer debuting in the fall, culminating with a placement on Puss In Boots,” a Warner Bros exec tells me.

Already, domestic pre-sales show that Breaking Dawn Part 1 has jumped onto MovieTickets.com’s highest advance seller list, ranking 5th among the Top 5 — ahead of The Twilight Saga’s last installment Eclipse but behind Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1. In anticipation of the increased sales for Breaking Dawn‘s release, MovieTickets.com said it grew its theatre chain group count to 244 this week, and now sells tickets for over 17,400 movie screens.) Joel Cohen, CEO of MovieTickets.com, stated, “The success of The Twilight Saga and the trends we saw from advance ticket sales of the most recent film is phenomenal. The fans who have supported this franchise from the beginning show no signs of walking away from what we know will continue to be a record-breaking movie going event.” The net production budget for Breaking Dawn Part 1, after tax rebates and such, is $110 million. Costs were held down because parts 1 and 2 were made back-to-back by Summit. But the director of both pictures, Bill Condon, is not receiving anywhere near the generally good reviews of the previous Twilight Saga movies.

Overseas, the Twilight Saga films have grossed over $1 billion coming into this latest release. Twilight grossed $200M, New Moon more than doubled its predecessor with $416M, and Eclipse is just shy of crossing the $400M mark. The breakdown of territories releasing this weekend is as follows: Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Argentina, Bahrain, Bolivia, Chile, CIS, Croatia, Czech, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, UAE, Ukraine, Aruba, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Indonesia, Latvia, Lithuania, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Taiwan, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela, West Indies, UK. Germany releases on November 24th, South Korea on December 1st, and Japan on February 25th.

Chronologically, the international rollout started Wednesday with Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden,  Switzerland. Thursday with Australia, Argentina, Bahrain, Bolivia, Chile, CIS, Croatia, Czech, Denmark, Egypt, Greece,  Hungary, Israel, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, UAE, Ukraine. Friday with Aruba, Brazil, Bulgaria,  Colombia, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Indonesia, Latvia, Lithuania, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Taiwan, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela, West Indies, UK as well as Canada and the U.S. (Previous: YIKES! Twilight Fans Already Lining Up For ‘Breaking Dawn′ Premiere)

On Wednesday, Breaking Dawn Part 1 opened #1 in France grossing $3.83M for its opening day. The film dethroned the highly popular French comedy Intouchables ahead also of the hugely popular Tintin 3D. It is the third highest opening result for this year in France. Summit said the film is performing very well across the country in all provinces, and first screenings at the Le Grand Rex theater in Paris was sold out. In Australia, midnight screenings were huge with $1.27M. In Italy, it opened #1 with box office of $2.3M. In Belgium, it made $786K which was 63.7% of all the Wednesday film business in that country. Breaking Dawn Part 1 dethroned hometown boy Tintin 3D. This is especially notable considering the fact that, unlike Eclipse’s opening, it was not during a summer or holiday period. In Sweden, the film reported box office of $757K.