Twihards Steer New Moon to New Records

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The ComingSoon.net Box Office Report has been updated with studio estimates for the weekend. Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films and then check back on Monday for the final figures based on actual box office.

There was little question last week that the second chapter of Stephenie Meyers’ supernatural romance drama The Twilight Saga: New Moon with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson would open big, but after setting a new midnight record on Thursday and a new single day record on Friday with $72.7 million, it has left even the most jaded critic of the franchise flabbergasted at how well the movie performed. In its first three days, “New Moon” grossed an estimated $140.7 million, the third-biggest opening weekend domestically of all time with a per-site average of just under $35,000 per venue, the fourth largest per-theater average for a wide release. The movie also surpassed the previous November opening record for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by a wide margin. Essentially, it grossed almost exactly twice the opening weekend gross of the first Twilight exactly a year ago. The first installment went on to gross roughly $190 million, but with so much clear frontloading to Friday, it’s difficult to tell how well the sequel will hold up compared to the original movie. With Thanksgiving and the holidays coming up, it should be able to at least get to $300 million in its theatrical run, which once again puts it up against the “Harry Potter” franchise, the sixth installment which is currently the #2 movie of the year with $301.8 million. On top of that, the Chris Weitz-directed epic took in $118.1 million internationally in 25 markets for a total global take in just three days of $258.8 million.

An even bigger surprise this weekend may have been the success of Sandra Bullock’s football drama The Blind Side (Warner Bros.), which has grossed an estimated $34.5 million in three days, over twice even the most optimistic prediction for the weekend, and averaging roughly $11,000 per site in over 3,100 theaters. One presumes that the combination of strong last-minute reviews and the spillover from sold-out “New Moon” screenings helped the movie perform strongly, and if that number holds up, it will be the actresses’ biggest opening to date, even surpassing her recent summer hit comedy The Proposal, which opened with $33.6 million and grossed $164 million total.

After opening with $65 million last weekend, Roland Emmerich’s disaster movie 2012 (Sony Pictures), starring John Cusack and Chiwetel Ejiofor, dropped dramatically, losing 59% of its business in its second weekend to end up in third place with $26.5 million and a ten-day total of $108.2 million, still well below its reported $200 million production budget.

The weakest showing this weekend for a new movie in the Top 10 went to Sony’s animated sci-fi comedy Planet 51, featuring the voice of Dwayne Johnson, which underperformed compared to other animated movies released by Sony, grossing an estimated $12.6 million in over 3,000 theaters.

Disney’s A Christmas Carol dropped 45% to take fifth place with $12.2 million and a three week total of just under $80 million. It has a long way to go to make back its own $200 million production budget.

Lee Daniels’ inspirational drama Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire (Lionsgate) expanded even wider into roughly 640 theaters but dropped to sixth place with $11 million and a three week total of $21.4 million, nearly double its production budget.

Grant Heslov’s political comedy The Men Who Stare at Goats (Overture Films) dropped to seventh place with $2.7 million and $27.6 million total.

The rest of the movies in the Top 10 made less than $2 million and cumulatively, the Top 10 grossed roughly $245 million, up over $90 million or 59% from the same weekend last year when Twilight topped the box office with just under $70 million.

Opening in limited release, Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage, grossed $257 thousand in 27 theaters in select cities, averaging roughly $9,500 per site. Opening in two theaters in New York City, Spain’s #1 auteur Pedro Almodovar’s new movie Broken Embraces, once again pairing him with Penelope Cruz, brought in a respectable $108 thousand.

Click here for the full box office results of the top 12 films.