Box Office: 'Breaking Dawn' grosses heart-stopping $139.5 million [Updated]
Vampires and werewolves kept their grip on teenage girls at the multiplex this weekend, as the fourth installment in the “Twilight” franchise had the fifth-best domestic opening of all time at the box office.
“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” raked in $139.5 million, according to an estimate from distributor Summit Entertainment. While that was an impressive opening, “Breaking Dawn” still fell just short of breaking the $142.8-million opening weekend record held by the second installment in the series, 2009's “New Moon.”
“Happy Feet Two,” the weekend’s only other new release, did not have as much to smile about. The 3-D animated sequel starring dancing penguins collected a disappointing $22 million.
Heading into the weekend, Summit said it was not expecting “Breaking Dawn” to gross more than $125 million this weekend, though prerelease audience surveys had forecasted an opening of as much as $150 million.
Richie Fay, Summit's domestic distribution president, surmised that “Breaking Dawn” may have opened to a slightly lower figure than “New Moon” because the “Twilight” audience is “aging up.”
“As we all know, as folks get older, the impulse to get out and be the first one to see the movie isn’t there,” Fay said. He said he still expects the film to ultimately gross around $700 million worldwide, about the sum the last two "Twilight" films ended up collecting globally.
"Breaking Dawn,” which stars Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner, features a highly anticipated wedding and dramatic high-risk pregnancy. The Bill Condon-directed film -- which has received the worst critical reviews of any movie in the series -- cost Summit about $110 million to produce after tax rebates.
Those who saw the film this weekend -- an 80% female crowd -- assigned it an average grade of B+, according to market research firm CinemaScore. (“Happy Feet Two” received the same grade.)
Overseas, where Summit has presold the film to local distributors, "Breaking Dawn" grossed $144 million in 54 foreign markets, including Mexico, Spain and Australia.
"Happy Feet Two" had a far softer debut than its predecessor. The first movie, which also received much more positive reviews than the sequel, debuted with $41.5 million in November 2006 and ended up grossing $384.3 million worldwide without the benefit of 3-D ticket surcharges. Roughly 50% of this weekend's "Happy Feet Two" ticket sales came from 3-D receipts.
After its lackluster start, it remains to be seen if the second "Happy Feet" will collect as much in ticket sales as the original. Warner Bros. and co-financier Village Roadshow Pictures spent about $135 million to produce "Happy Feet Two."
About 57% of the audience who saw the animated sequel this weekend were female. But Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.' president of domestic distribution, said the film lost much of that key demographic to "Breaking Dawn" this weekend.
“We were fighting for females from ‘Twilight,’ and we were expecting to have a little issue with them but our weekend figure certainly came in a little under our expectations,” Fellman said.
Still, he added, the studio felt it was worth it to open against “Breaking Dawn” to get out ahead of three new family films releasing over the Thanksgiving holiday, “The Muppets,” “Hugo,” and “Arthur Christmas.”
Fellman said he was not worried about the competition those three PG-rated films could present for “Happy Feet Two.”
“The tracking on the movies that are opening is not great,” he said, referring to information gathered from prerelease audience surveys.
[Updated 11:46 a.m. Nov. 20: Overseas, "Breaking Dawn" performed best in Britain, where star Pattinson is from. The fourth film brought in $22 million there, and had the highest debut of any "Twilight" movie in the region. The movie also did exceptionally well in Russia, where it grossed $15 million, and in France, where it collected $14.5 million.
Here are the top 10 current movies at the domestic box office, with international grosses when available, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:
2. "Happy Feet Two" (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow): Opened to $22 million. $2.6 million overseas in five foreign markets.
3. Immortals" (Relativity): $12.3 million on its second weekend, down 62%. Domestic total: $53 million.
4. "Jack and Jill" (Sony): $12 million on its second weekend, down 52%. $1.6 million overseas in seven foreign markets. Domestic total: $41 million. International total: $5.7 million.
5. "Puss in Boots" (Paramount/DreamWorks Animation): $10.7 million on its fourth weekend, down 57%. $2.4 million overseas in five foreign markets. Domestic total: $122.3 million. International total: $53.1 million.
6. "Tower Heist" (Universal/Relativity): $7 million on its third weekend, down 46%. $4.5 million overseas in 38 foreign markets. Domestic total: $54.4 million. International total: $27.4 million.
7. "J. Edgar" (Warner Bros.): $5.9 million on its second weekend, down 47%. Domestic total: $20.7 million.
8. "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas" (Warner Bros./New Line): $2.9 million on its third weekend, down 51%. Domestic total: $28.3 million.
9. "In Time" (Fox/New Regency): $1.7 million on its fourth weekend, down 59%. $4.2 million overseas in 54 foreign markets. Domestic total: $33.4 million. International total: $62.1 million.
10. "The Descendants" (Fox Searchlight): Opened in 29 theaters on Friday, bringing in $1.2 million over the weekend. Domestic total (since Wednesday): $1.3 million.]
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart star in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1." Credit: Summit Entertainment