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First look: 'New Moon' opens to massive $140.7 million, $258.8 million worldwide [Updated]

November 22, 2009 |  8:52 am

TwilightFans "Twilight" No. 2 had the No. 3 opening weekend of all time.

Summit Entertainment's "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" sold an astounding $140.7 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, according to studio estimates, blowing away already huge expectations and giving the teen vampire saga the third-biggest domestic debut of all time.

In the 25 foreign countries where "New Moon" launched, it added an extra $118.1 million, giving it a mind-bending worldwide total of $258.8 million. That's the seventh-biggest worldwide launch of all time and is particularly notable given that several international markets where the first "Twilight" performed very well, including Germany, South Korea and Russia, haven't gotten the film yet. [Updated 9:21 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that the worldwide ticket sales total was $248.8 million.]

The domestic debut is the biggest, by a margin of $38 million, for a film opening outside of the summer movie season, between May and July, when the biggest tentpoles traditionally launch. The No. 1 opener of all time is "The Dark Knight," which opened to $158.4 million in July 2008, followed by "Spider-Man 3," which started with $151.1 million in May of 2007.

Ticket sales plummeted 41% on Saturday from Friday, the biggest such decline for any picture this year, reflecting the massive pent-up interest among devoted young female fans of the franchise who gave it the most lucrative midnight shows and opening day of all time.

Despite the movie's record-breaking first day, however, the Saturday decline was virtually identical with the first "Twilight," demonstrating that demand to see the movie hasn't shifted up in the schedule, but grown significantly. It appears that more adult women turned out for the sequel, along with the teenage and tween girls who fueled the original.

Assuming it continues to follow the path of the first "Twilight," "New Moon" will likely end up grossing well over $500 million worldwide, representing a windfall for its independent distributor Summit Entertainment. The movie cost just under $50 million to produce, including Canadian tax credits.

The first "Twilight" collected $385 million worldwide.

Despite the dominance of "New Moon," it was a big weekend overall at the box office. Alcon Entertainment's inspirational drama "The Blind Side," starring Sandra Bullock, opened to a much-bigger-than-expected $34.5 million, a very strong launch for a modestly budgeted drama.

"Planet 51," which Sony Pictures distributed for financier and animation studio Ilion Studios, debuted to a so-so $12.3 million.

Lionsgate's well-reviewed festival film"Precious" continues to play very strongly as it expanded to 629 theaters and grossed a healthy $11 million, bringing its total thus far to $21.4 million. The independent studio bought the hard-hitting drama at the Sundance Film Festival for a minimum guarantee of $5.5 million.

Sony's "2012" fell a sizable 59% from its huge opening, taking in $26.5 million in third place this weekend. Disney's "A Christmas Carol" lost a bit of its mojo, dropping 45%, significantly more than the 26% it declined on its second weekend.


--Ben Fritz

Photo: Fans Deeanna Lopez, left, Sabrina Lopez and Ilrimani Cisneros at the opening of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" in Universal City on Friday. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times.

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