Box Office Preview: The Last Twilight Saga Column Ever!

After two big weekends at the box office, we get another big sequel, this one being the finale to one of the bigger franchises of the past five years. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (Summit) is once again directed by Bill (Dreamgirls) Condon as it reunites Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner for the fifth and final time to bring Stephenie Meyer’s supernatural drama to a close, this one promising to have a lot more action then the last four movies.

As we saw last year with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, there’s always an added excitement that comes from the end of a popular series, and that one set a new opening weekend record as well as an all-time high for the series, grossing $381 million domestic – that’s $65 million more than the next highest grossing chapter. The question is whether “The Twilight Saga” will end on a similar note since the series peaked with the third chapter “Eclipse,” grossing $300 million over the summer of 2010, and the last chapter dropped, opening lower than 2009’s “New Moon” and grossing less than “Eclipse.” A year since the first part of the final chapter, The Hunger Games has come along and stolen some of “Twilight’s” thunder, but there are still millions of female fans who probably can’t wait to see how it ends and they’ll be out in force, just like the previous four times.

The previous chapter had an opening day of $71.6 million including Thursday midnights, which is more than Eclipse‘s $68.4 million, but the finale is following the current trend of opening with earlier screenings with most places having 10PM screenings on Thursday night. Since those numbers will be combined into Friday, we think the finale will open even bigger, probably with as much as $80 million or more – the excited fans who rush out to see it will be balanced by those who are more tentative after the weak previous installment. This should help it have an opening at least as big but probably bigger than “New Moon” in the $145 to 150 million range, making it the biggest opening for the franchise and seventh-biggest opening of all time. With a lot of other movies opening in the next couple of months, we think it will probably top out around $320 million.

Expanding nationwide on Friday is Steven Spielberg’s latest, Lincoln (DreamWorks), starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th U.S. President and co-starring Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and John Hawkes. This is Spielberg’s big prestige film for the year, working from a screenplay by Tony Kushner, who also wrote Munich, another late-year release that only grossed $47.3 million despite receiving five Oscar nominations. Last year, Spielberg adapted the hit play War Horse, which received mixed reviews and ended up grossing $80 million domestically, helped by its 6 Oscar nominations. Spielberg has been trying to make this movie for a long time, previously with Liam Neeson in the title role, but it’s definitely paid off as the movie’s gotten some of the best reviews Spielberg has gotten in years.

Lincoln had a great platform opening in 11 theaters this past weekend, grossing $900 thousand, roughly $80 thousand per site, which is absolutely terrific, and it’s expanding into roughly 1,500-1,600 theaters, which is fairly moderate, more in line with Munich than War Horse. As we saw with Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master a few months back, it’s usually rare to expand a movie that platforms well wide so quickly, but this is a different story because it’s Steven Spielberg, probably one of America’s greatest living directors, making a movie about one of the country’s greatest Presidents that’s being released in the shadow of a fairly heated Presidential election. The Disney marketing machine has taken full advantage of that, even running ads during some of the Presidential debates, which is nothing short of genius. Since there’s very little crossover audience between the older men who might want to see this and “Twilight,” we expect that Disney’s expansion plans to be sound and we expect this one to perform closer to how Robert Zemeckis’ Flight did a few weeks back, ending up somewhere in the mid-to-high teens. Since we expect this movie to be getting a lot of awards over the next few months, we shouldn’t be too surprised if this plays well through next March and ends up grossing $80 to 100 million when all’s said and done.

Interview with Tommy Lee Jones

This weekend last year saw the release of the first half of the last chapter of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (Summit)

$138.1 million in 4,061 theaters, down slightly from The Twilight Saga: New Moon two years earlier. Also, George Miller’s animation sequel Happy Feet Two (Warner Bros.) opened in 3,606 theaters, but it failed to find the success of the original movie, a movie that grossed $200 million and went on to win an Academy award. The sequel opened with roughly half the amount of its predecessor with just $21.24 million to take second place. Another opening of note was Alexander Payne’s The Descendants (Fox Searchlight), starring George Clooney, which opened in just 29 theaters but ended up in the Top 10 with just over a million dollars, averaging $41 thousand per site. The Top 10 grossed $213 million, but with far stronger returning movies joining “The Twilight Saga,” we think this weekend will surpass that.

This Week’s Updated Predictions

UPDATE: The biggest change is for Flight, which adds 600 theaters this weekend to take advantage of positive buzz from its first two weeks in release.

1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (Summit) – $152 million (including Thursday 10PM) N/A (same)

2. Skyfall (MGM/Sony) – $46.8 million -45% (same)

3. Wreck-It Ralph (Disney) – $21.0 million -36% (same)

4. Lincoln (DreamWorks) – $16.8 million 1600% (up .3 million)

5. Flight (Paramount) – $10.8 million -27% (up 1.8 million)

6. Argo (Warner Bros.) – $4.5 million -30% (down .1 million)

7. Taken 2 (20th Century Fox) – $2.5 million -43% (up .2 million)

8. Here Comes the Boom (Sony) – $1.3 million -45% (down .2 million)

9. Cloud Atlas (Warner Bros.) – $1.0 million -63% (down .4 million)

10. Hotel Transylvania (Sony Pictures) – $1.0 million -57% (down .2 million)

We sort of have two CHOSEN ONE(S) this week, the first of them being David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Company), a romantic dramedy starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Chris Tucker. You can read my Toronto Film Festival review here.

The other one is Alex Gibney’s documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (HBO Films), which looks at the grown-up students of the St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the school’s beloved instructor, Father Lawrence Murphy. You can read what we had to say about that here.

Atonement and Hannah director Joe Wright reteams with the former’s star Keira Knightley for Anna Karenina (Focus Features), an unconventional take on Leo Tolstoy’s 19th Century serialized novel about the wife of a Russian diplomat (played by Jude Law) who falls for the younger military man Count Vronsky (Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor Johnson) while on a trip to Moscow to visit her brother (Matthew Macfadyen). Also starring Kelly MacDonald and Emily Watson, it opens in select cities on Friday.


Video Interview with Keira Knightley & Director Joe Wright

Video Interview with Jude Law

Oscar-winning actor Christopher Plummer stars in the one-man show Barrymore (Image Entertainment), William Luce’s play that played on Broadway in 1997, winning Plummer a Tony for Best Actor. Filmed over seven days at the Elgin Theater in Toronto, the play about American actor John Barrymore in 1942, dealing with no longer being a huge box office star. It opens in select cities on Thursday.

Ugly Betty‘s Eric Mabius stars in Michael Walker’s Price Check (IFC Films), playing a music marketer who takes a job working in the pricing at a supermarket chain and having to contend with a new boss, Susan Felders (Parker Posey) who gets him on the fast track to becoming an executive, forcing him to set aside his dreams and time with his family. I saw this at Sundance, didn’t think much of it. IFC have already put it on VOD before giving it a token theatrical release. Whatever.

Kevin and Matthew McManus’ comedy Funeral Kings (Freestyle Releasing) is about two teen altar boys at St. Mark’s Middle School who are always getting into trouble and get their hands on a locked trunk which they open despite being warned not to, and find a revolver inside.

We finish things up with the doc portion of the week, starting with Jeff Orlwoski’s doc Chasing Ice (National Geographic), which has won numerous awards on the festival circuit including one for its cinematography at Sundance. The film follows National Geographic photographer James Balog as he captures the dwindling glaciers of the Arctic to prove the effects of global climate change.

Opening at New York’s Film Forum on Wednesday is Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’sThe Law in These Parts, (Cinema Guild) which deals with the legal structure created in Israel after the Six Days War of 1967 to treat the West Bank and Gaza Strip as occupied territories.

Todd Kellstein’s Buffalo Girls (Paladin) takes a look at the world of underground Thai boxing through the eyes of two 8-year-old girls, who are professional Muay Thai prizefighters on their way to the 20 Kilo championship belt. Hitler’s Children (Film Movement) is a German-Israeli doc from Chanoch Ze’evi which looks at the children, godchildren and grandchildren of top Nazi commanders like Herman Göring, Rudolf Hoess and Adolf Hitler, who have their own FIGHT (see what we did there?) with the atrocities committed by their ancestors.

Also, if you’re in New York, DOC-NY continues through Thursday. Here’s our review of Michael Apted’s 56 Up.

Next week, it’s Thanksgiving weekend, often one of the busiest weeks at the box office other than Christmas, and we have four very different new movies opening, including the animated holiday family film Rise of the Guardians (DreamWorks Animation), Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s bestseller Life of Pi (20th Century Fox), David O. Russell’s romantic dramedy Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Co.), starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and the remake of the ‘80s cult classic Red Dawn (FilmDistrict), starring Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck and Josh Hutcherson.

You can read more stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the new Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.

Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas


Marvel and DC