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'Eclipse' records second-biggest single-day ticket sales ever, behind 'New Moon'

July 1, 2010 |  8:59 am

EclipseFans The newest "Twilight" installment may have eclipsed all movies at the box office at midnight, but it fell just short for its first full day.

"The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" sold $68.5 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada on Wednesday, its first full day in theaters, according to an estimate from distributor Summit Entertainment. That's the second-highest total for a single day in box office history, not accounting for inflation, and the highest for any day except Friday.

The only movie that grossed more on a single day was the last "Twilight" film, "New Moon," which collected $72.7 million when it opened on a Friday last November.

People who closely follow ticket sales said that while "Eclipse" beat its predecessor in screenings that started at or soon after midnight, with $30 million-plus compared to "New Moon's" $26.3 million, it fell behind "New Moon" in matinees and evening shows.

That may not turn out to be a meaningful drop, however. With a long holiday weekend coming up, many "Twilight" fans are likely planning to see the newest installment in the next few days. Expectations for "Eclipse" remain very high, with people who closely track box office at studios expecting it to gross about $180 million in its first six days.

Audiences gave "Eclipse" an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore, slightly higher than the A- given to "New Moon." If fans do agree with most critics that "Eclipse" is a better film, it could generate better word of mouth and more repeat business and end up with a higher total gross than "New Moon's" $297 million.

-- Ben Fritz


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Photo: From left, Tiffany Collins, 16, Miranda Parkis, 15, and Tiffany's sister Ricki Collins, 15, all of Syracuse, N.Y., race past the ticket line toward their seats before a midnight showing of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" at Shoppingtown mall in Syracuse on Tuesday night. Credit: Jim Commentucci / Associated Press