Weekend Box Office: $141.3 Million Debut for THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 2 Falls Just Short of Franchise Record

     November 18, 2012

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No records were broken but The Twilight Saga went out the way it came in: huge. From 4,070 locations, Breaking Dawn Part 2 took in an estimated $141.3 million – topping the $138.1 million of last year’s Breaking Dawn Part 1 but falling slightly under the series’ record of $142.8 million set by New Moon. Worldwide, Twilight’s swan song has brought in over $340 million since its release which makes you wonder – how long before Summit can get a prequel in the works?

Title Weekend Total
1.  Breaking Dawn Part 2 $141,300,000 $141.3
2.  Skyfall $41,500,000 $161.3
3.  Lincoln $21,000,000 $22.4
4.  Wreck-It Ralph $18,312,000 $121.4
5.
 Flight $8,615,000 $61.3
6.  Argo $4,070,000 $92
7.  Taken 2 $2,100,000 $121.6
8.  Pitch Perfect $1,260,000 $61
9.  Here Comes the Boom $1,200,000 $41
10.  Cloud Atlas $900,000 $24.8

twilight-breaking-dawn-part-2-poster-kristen-stewartFour years, five films and over $2.5 billion dollars… and it’s almost over. Since 2008, The Twilight Saga has been an annual box office event: with hordes of screaming fans and giant grosses attending each successive release. So with the end now nigh, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the brief, glorious history of the box office phenomenon that was The Twilight Saga.

Last weekend, as Skyfall opened to record-setting domestic earnings, I mentioned the most lucrative movie series of all time. In terms of domestic earnings, James Bond ranks third with more than $1.7 billion, but here’s the thing: it took fifty years and 23 films for .007 to generate that total. It may be easy to dismiss Twilight from an artistic standpoint, but no one can argue with its financial success. In just four years the series has earned over $1 billion in the US and $2.5 billion worldwide.

It was this week in 2008 that Twilight caught many people off guard with its giant box office debut of almost $70 million. For those of us unaware of Stephanie Meyer’s books, it felt like the tale of teen-vamp-love came out of nowhere.  Within months, Twilight had earned $192.7 million in the US, prompting Summit Entertainment to greenlight a series of sequels and to christen their new franchise “The Twilight Saga.”

The series hit its high with New Moon. That film broke the one-day opening record with $72.7 million in November 2009 (a record that has since fallen) and came close to the weekend record with $142.8 million over its first three days. New Moon was followed by Eclipse in 2010. The only Twilight film to premiere in the summer instead of the pre-Thanksgiving frame, Eclipse earned over $68 million on its first day (a Wednesday) and went on to break $300 in domestic earnings (the highest for the franchise).

robert-pattinson-twilight-breaking-dawn-part-2-posterThat brings us to 2011 and Breaking Dawn Part 1, the penultimate chapter of The Twilight Saga. I have already told you that Part 1 brought in $138.1 million on its opening weekend and, recalling the huge spike that separated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 from its first chapter, many box office watchers believed that the final Twilight film would see a similar boost in grosses. That did not come to pass. Instead of the $155 million that was forecast, Breaking Dawn Part 2 opened on par with its predecessor.

Why no surge of interest for the last gasp of a series that has so dominated pop culture? Unlike Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga does not cut through demographics with ease. Its audience is incredibly dedicated, but it is also limited; and anyone who was not already a fan before Friday was not likely to be tempted to sign up with Team Edward or Jacob at this late date. Breaking Dawn Part 2 did manage to top $135 million – the figure that was projected after Friday’s estimates were released – but its weekend take will still be remembered more for what it wasn’t (a record) than for what it was (incredibly impressive).

Buoyed by Breaking Dawn Part 2, this year’s overall box office was up almost 15% over 2011. Because Breaking Dawn Part 1 was the big news one year ago, that spike can be credited to interest in Skyfall and Lincoln.

After its franchise-topping debut one week ago, Skyfall dropped 53% in its sophomore frame. So far, the film has earned $161.3 million in the US and a staggering $669.2 million worldwide. In the shadow of Skyfall, Lincoln also managed to make news last weekend with its enormous per-screen haul from just eleven locations. On Friday, director Steven Spielberg’s biopic went wide and took in an impressive $21 million from its 1,775 runs.

Along with its healthy debut, Lincoln is also expected to hold up well through next week’s Thanksgiving holiday. While the presumably front-loaded Breaking Dawn Part 2 is challenged by Life of Pi and Rise of the Guardians, the adult-skewing Lincoln is expected to maintain its legs on its long, inexorable journey to the Academy Awards.

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