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'Eclipse' breaks 'New Moon' record for midnight ticket sales with more than $30 million

June 30, 2010 | 11:06 am

EclipseMidnight Hard-core "Twilight" fans have set another box office record.

"Eclipse," the third movie based on the best-selling vampire romance novels, sold more than $30 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada Tuesday night in shows that started at or soon after midnight. Distributor Summit Entertainment is still calculating the exact total, a spokesman said.

The previous record for midnight screening ticket sales of $26.3 million was set by the last "Twilight" movie, "New Moon," in November 2009.

Grosses from midnight screenings are usually a sign of early fan enthusiasm for a movie, a category in which "Twilight" undeniably excels, as evidenced by the near-hysterical interest in stars Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart at events like last week's premiere.

"Eclipse" has the advantage of being the first "Twilight" movie to open in the summer and also the first to play on Imax screens -- 193 total -- which carry higher ticket prices. However, "Eclipse" also easily broke the previous record for midnight ticket sales in the summer: $22.2 million for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" last summer.

More than $1 million of "Eclipse" ticket sales Tuesday night came from Imax screens.

With a record amount of money already in hand, the question now for distributor Summit Entertainment is whether "Eclipse" will be a bigger hit than "New Moon" or if it will end up with a similar total domestic gross of about $300 million.

Since most people are off of work Monday for the July 4 holiday, "Eclipse" is expected to gross a huge amount of money in its first six days, likely about $180 million and possibly as much as $200 million.

--Ben Fritz

Photo: Alice Griffin, 23, becomes excited Tuesday at the Cineport 10 in Las Cruces, N.M., about seeing "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" that midnight. Credit: Norm Dettlaff / Associated Press

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