Twilight Eclipses Bolt, Bond
By John Hamann
November 23, 2008
Summit Entertainment also made some really smart industry moves along the way to release. Twilight received a huge gift when Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince moved from this weekend in November to Summer 2009. Originally, Twilight was scheduled as a December 2008 release, but when Potter picked up and left, Summit didn't wait long to jump into the spot. Disney's Bolt actually moved into this weekend first, but it didn't put Summit off. The new date put Twilight out the weekend before Thanksgiving, and only five weekends away from Christmas, which should give it bigger legs than it would have received with a mid-December release date. Scheduling has been in the limelight as of late, as Disney dropped the ball with High School Musical 3: Senior Year, opening it the weekend before Halloween, and two weekends prior to the release of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Summit was also able to get Twilight on to 3,419 venues - many of them in the middle of the night on Thursday, which wouldn't have been an easy task for a distributor whose biggest title was a martial arts movie.
Finally, Summit controlled the critics in a way that didn't make their film look bad. Quietly, Summit embargoed reviews for Twilight, which controlled any early negative word-of-mouth, and then on Thursday, marketed the good reviews into a good news story for the media. In the end, at RottenTomatoes, 123 reviews had been counted at the time of this writing, and 53 were positive, leaving Twilight at 43% fresh. The movie isn't great, but it's a huge winner, and it cost Summit only $37 million to make. Is this a $300 million domestic earner by the end of the run? Probably not. However, it will make $200 million, which is $163 million more than the production cost.
With this big of an opening, is there room for more big titles at the weekend box office? Absolutely. After coming off a $67.5 million debut last weekend, Quantum of Solace didn't get completely buried by Twilight, but it did feel an impact. The new James Bond flick earned $27.4 million in its second weekend, and was off a heavy 59% compared to last weekend. I think it is important to remember that the first Bond flick with Daniel Craig opened to $40 million, so to have a second weekend in the low $30 millions, regardless of first frame numbers, isn't a bad thing. Yes, Casino Royale was off only 25% in its second weekend, but it was buoyed by a holiday Friday, which basically gave its second weekend two Saturdays (the big days of the weekend for this type of film). Quantum of Solace crossed the $100 million mark on Saturday, its eighth day of release, and joins Madagascar 2 as the second November 2008 flick to reach $100 million in only eight days. Quantum now has a cume of $109.8 million, and it's still too early to tell where this one will end up. $200 million is certainly a very strong possibility.
Finishing in what may be a sorry third is Disney's Bolt, as it just didn't sit at the top of the movie-going food chain. Despite them being two extremely different films, Bolt lost a part of its audience to Twilight, as the animated film's opening weekend came in at an okay $27 million. While this is approximately one-third of what Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa opened to a few weeks ago, Bolt is a different animal, as it's not a sequel, a Pixar film, or a tentpole release for its distributor. $60-$70 million Pixar-type openings were never at play here, or even a Ratatouille-like $47 million opening. Shrek numbers were out, as Disney was left to look at some of their other 3-D releases. It did earn close to what Meet the Robinsons did over its opening frame ($25.1 million), but failed to come approach Chicken Little's $40.1 million. Bolt was a tough release for Disney, as it opened within the shadow of Madagascar 2, and was absolutely eclipsed in the media by Twilight. Bolt had a fantastic trailer and TV ad, but to break through the insanity around Twilight was almost impossible. The larger theatres in googleplexes would have been reserved first for Twilight, and second for the sophomore weekend of Quantum of Solace.