SUNDAY AM: Summit Entertainment’s low cost blockbuster Twilight opened huge as expected because of heavy pre-sales with $35.8M Friday. But the front-loaded pic dropped a big but expected 41% to $21M Saturday. (Similarly front loaded Sex And The City also had a big Friday to Saturday fall…)With an estimated $13.6M Sunday from 3,419 theaters, including $7M worth of Thursday midnight shows, Twilight will end up with $70.5M for its first North American weekend in release. Exit polling showed audiences were 75%/25% female to male, and 55%/25% under or over the age of 25. Fangirls — or should I say fang-girls — were buying 5 Twilight tickets per second as of early Friday morning, making it online ticket-seller Fandango’s fastest-selling film since The Dark Knight last July. Then the tween and teen females in store bought or homemade Twilight clothes (and even Twilight tattoos) flocked to the first Big Screen version of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling series of Romeo & Juliet-style vampire romance books. Yet the movie adaptation by Melissa Rosenberg was made by start-up studio Summit for only $37M. This will be the start of a big new franchise since a sequel is already in the works — New Moon, based on Meyer’s second book in the series. The first box office records have already been broken by Twilight‘s girl power. This is the biggest opening for a female director. Catherine Hardwicke is easily beating Mimi Leder’s $41.1M for 1998’s Deep Impact. (But with an asterisk since these figures aren’t adjusted for inflation, ticket prices, etc.) Twilight will have the 2nd best opening day for a November release behind Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, and the 11th best Friday opening of all time, beating the first Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone, and the 15th best opening day ever. It also scored the 4th best November opening weekend of all time, and the 4th best opening weekend of 2008. It’s a defining moment for Summit’s start-up studio that had really struggled on its first few releases. On Saturday morning, Summit officially announced the greenlight for the New Moon sequel (I’m told to contain costs the studio is considering making sequels #2 and #3 back to back like other successful franchises have done), and Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart formally thanked fans for their support of what is now a movie franchise.

No. 2 was the new Bond pic Quantum Of Solace which was down 68% from its franchise record opening a week ago to earn $8.5M Friday from 3,458 venues. But its take jumped to $11.6M Saturday for a $27.4M weekend, -59% from last weekend — with a new North American cume past $109.4M (passing $100M Saturday in just 6 days time). Going into Friday, Daniel Craig’s 2nd turn as 007 has made $335M worldwide. The actioner opened in Australia and Spain to the biggest Bond openings ever. So MGM/Sony had an overseas weekend of $40.6M which will put international at $309M for a staggering $418.5M worldwide through Sunday. There are four territories left to open — New Zealand, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Japan.

Because Twilight played much younger than expected Friday, it took “that extra bite right out of Bolt,” according to one studio mogul. As a result, Disney’s toon starring the voices of John Travolta and Miley Cyrus debuted Friday with only $7M from 3,651 runs. But Saturday kiddie matinees came through for the pooch pic which gained 66% to earn $11.7M and only a $27M weekend which is less than expected for Disney animation. This family fare had the largest digital 3D release ever, opening at approximately 979 Digital 3D locations which did 2x the business of 2D auditoriums. Last Saturday, the studio sneaked the pic at around 880 theaters to build word of mouth.

DreamWorks Animation’s toon sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa distributed by Paramount came in No. 4 with $3.7M Friday and $7.3M Saturday from 4,007 dates for a $16M weekend a fresh $137.4M cume. And Universal’s raunchy R-rated comedy Role Models continues to surprise by outperforming: at #5, it took in $2.4M Friday and $3 Saturday from 2,733 plays for a $7.2M weekend a new cume of $48M.

No. 6 was Universal’s Changeling with $2.6M in 1,739 theaters for a new cume of $31.6M. No. 7 was Disney’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year with $2M from 2,361 venues for a new cume of $88.8M. No. 8 was The Weinstein Co’s Zack And Miri Make A Porno with $1.7M from 1,222 venues for a new cume of $29.3M. No. 9 was Miramax’s Boy In The Striped Pajamas with $1.6M from 406 runs for a new cume of $2.6M. And rounding out the Top 10 was Fox Searchlight’s The Secret Life Of Bees with $1.2M from 1,095 dates for a new cume of $35.6M.

Oscar-touted Slumdog Millionaire expanded into 32 venues for a projected $993K weekend and $1.6M cume. (The Fox Searchlight pic opened last Wednesday on 10 screens and this Wednesday grossed +54% on the same 10 screens. As one insider told me, “That never happens. As a point of reference, even Juno last year didn’t do this.”) The pic had the 2nd best per screen average Friday behind only Twilight.

  1. Summit Announces ‘Twilight’ Sequel “New Moon’: Stars Thank Fans
  2. ‘Twilight’ Midnight Showings $7M; Fastest Online Ticket Sales Since Batman
  3. New Bond Now Boasts $355M Worldwide