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'Breaking Dawn' opening could (almost) make box-office history

November 17, 2011 |  4:08 pm

Photo: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in "Breaking Dawn." Credit: Kimberley French/Summit EntertainmentTwihards, your wait is almost over. "Breaking Dawn" debuts just after midnight tonight on 4,061 screens and is expected to rake in about $148 million -- and set something close to a box-office record -- before the weekend is over.

It doesn't matter that critics by and large says the movie "sucks" -- and not in good way.

The only thing that matters to the legion of young and largely female Twihards is that Bella and Edward are FINALLY GETTING MARRIED! Cue up an utterly romantic "I-now-pronounce-you-vampire-and-human" kiss ... and a night of wedded bliss.

Fans of the Stephenie Meyer vampire series-turned-film phenomenon starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are already lining up across the country even though the first screening won't start until after midnight. Many are likely to catch more than one showing this weekend because of the long-awaited wedding storyline that makes it a "can't-miss event."

That puts "Breaking Dawn" on track to possibly make box-office history -- of a sort. "It won't break the all-time records, but it could become one of the top three or four openings of all time," predicts Gitesh Pandya of Box Office Guru.

"The audience is still as strong as it has always been, it doesn't seem like the excitement has subsided at all," he said. The franchise record is currently held by "New Moon," which was released this same weekend two years ago, and pulled in $142.8 million.

"I have to think this one will get into the same ballpark," he said. "I think you're going to see some eye-popping numbers."

However, it's unlikely that the movie will threaten the three biggest openings of all time, the final movie in the "Harry Potter" series, "Dark Knight" and "Spider-man 3."

Also giving the movie a boost, says Pandya: "It is the first of two films based on the final book in the saga so fans are realizing that they have very few chances left to get together with friends for a night out to see their favorite screen couple."

The full name of the movie is a mouthful, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1." Part 2 is due out in November 2012.

ALSO:

Vampires: Sexy, or scary?

Photos: Robert Pattinson versus Taylor Lautner

Honeymoon with 'Twilight''s director, Bill Condon

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in "Breaking Dawn." Credit: Kimberley French/Summit Entertainment

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