Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend Report: 'Breaking Dawn' Ends 'Twilight' Franchise on Strong Note

The fifth and final Twilight movie opened to an outstanding $141.3 million this weekend, though that wasn't quite enough to set a new record for the popular franchise. Meanwhile, Skyfall had another strong weekend and Lincoln over-performed in its nationwide debut; as a result, the Top 12 earned around $237 million, which makes this the sixth-highest-grossing weekend ever.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2's estimated $141.3 million ranks eighth all-time and fourth in 2012 behind The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games. Among Twilight movies, it wound up slightly ahead of predecessor Breaking Dawn Part 1 ($138.1 million), but a tad below New Moon's franchise-best $142.8 million. This makes Twilight the first franchise ever to have three movies earn over $130 million in their first three days.

While this is undeniably a fantastic debut, there's a nagging feeling it should have done slightly better given the movie's finale status; past franchise finales like The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Star Wars: Episode III -Revenge of the Sith easily had the best debuts for their series. At least Twilight didn't see much, if any, audience attrition, which is a rare thing for most franchises.

There are a few indications that Breaking Dawn Part 2 could hang on a bit better than its predecessors. First, its Friday-to-Saturday drop (42 percent) was a slight improvement over Breaking Dawn Part 1 (44 percent). More importantly, it received the best exit polling so far for a Twilight movie, and its "A" CinemaScore ("A+" among those under 25) suggests word-of-mouth will be solid. Ultimately, the movie should earn at least $280 million and could wind up around $300 million.

The audience was 79 female and 21 percent male (highest male share of the franchise so far), and it was split evenly between those above and below 25 years of age.

On Friday, Lionsgate/Summit passed the $1 billion mark for the first time in the company's history, and is now at over $1.1 billion. For 2012, it's going to finish ahead of 20th Century Fox and Paramount, both of which are part of the traditional "Big Six" studios.

In its second outing, Skyfall fell 53 percent to an estimated $41.5 million. In comparison, Quantum of Solace fell 60 percent in its second weekend. Through 10 days, Skyfall has earned $161.3 million, and by Wednesday it will pass Quantum's $168.4 million to become the highest-grossing Bond movie ever. Also, using Quantum's pattern, there's a good chance Skyfall winds up with $250 million by the end of its run.

Steven Spielberg's Lincoln expanded to 1,775 locations this weekend and earned an excellent $21 million. That's easily the best start ever for a narrative feature about a real-life president ahead of Oliver Stone's 2008 movie W. ($10.5 million). It's also noticeably higher than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter's $16.3 million. With great reviews, plenty of awards buzz, strong word-of-mouth ("A" CinemaScore) and an audience that skews older (67 percent over 35 years of age), Lincoln should be on track for a very healthy run at the box office.

In fourth place, Wreck-It Ralph dropped 45 percent to an estimated $18.3 million. The animated hit has now grossed $121.5 million, and even with direct competition from Rise of the Guardians on Wednesday it's still in line for at least $150 million by the end of its run.

Rounding out the Top Five, Flight fell 42 percent to an estimated $8.6 million. Through 17 days, the Denzel Washington addiction drama has grossed $61.3 million.

Opening at 16 locations, Silver Linings Playbook scored an estimated $458,000. In comparison, writer-director David O. Russell's last movie, The Fighter, earned $300,010 from just four theaters in its first frame. Aside from tough competition for adult audiences from Skyfall and Lincoln, Silver Linings was also likely hurt by The Weinstein Company's last minute decision to add these playdates, which makes it more difficult to properly raise awareness and book the best screens and the most showtimes. The well-reviewed romantic comedy expands to around 420 theaters on Wednesday.

Anna Karenina also debuted at 16 theaters but only earned an estimated $315,000. It's per-theater average was $19,688; director Joe Wright's Atonement had a higher average at twice as many locations when it opened in December 2007.

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