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Top 12 Film Industry Stories of 2008:
#6: Twilight Is a Highlight

By David Mumpower

January 13, 2009

She just found out vampires could get a blood rush down there.

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The impact of this was far reaching for several studios, but Summit Entertainment was the one to capitalize on yet another J.K. Rowling vacuum. Twilight was placed in the spot previously held by Potter, one of the friendliest on the calendar. This week, the one preceding Thanksgiving, had been the landing spot of three previous Potter films. The worst performer of the three had opened with $77.1 million. And the success of blockbuster titles on this date was not reserved for every Muggle's favorite wizard. How the Grinch Stole Christmas had debuted with $55.8 million in 2000, the equivalent of $77.3 million in 2008 box office dollars. The only remaining question was whether Stephenie Meyer had made a movie as desirable to consumers as past works by Rowling and Dr. Seuss.

Stating the obvious, the answer was yes. We knew this within the first 24 hours of release. Twilight's first Friday (including Thursday midnight sneaks) saw box office receipts of $35,978,348, making it the 29th largest single day in history. The film was a bit front-loaded on opening weekend, of course, as the total of roughly $36 million represented over half of its three-day take of $69,637,740. Summitt Entertainment had managed to get an impressive 3,419 locations for the gothic vampire thriller, but even with such an ultra-wide release, it still managed a stunning $20,368 per location, among the highest of the year.




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Even more impressive than the 35th biggest debut of all time is the fact that despite being front-loaded on opening weekend, Twilight was not front-loaded on the whole. After its $69.6 million start, Meyer's masterpiece brought in another $111.8 million domestically, giving it a grand total of $181.4 million to date in North America. It has proven to be a draw internationally as well. Twilight's $116 million overseas to date gives the production a grand total of right at $300 million worldwide. This makes it the 14th most successful project of 2008, and it still has some upward mobility left in it. Wanted's $338.8 million is still within the realm of possibility, but The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor's $389.0 million is probably a bit ambitious at this point. I don't think anyone at Summit Entertainment is going to lose any sleep over that, though.

The number that really sells the success of Twilight is its production budget. At a cost of $37 million, Twilight had already earned back the body of its shooting expense after exactly one day in theaters. It had recouped all of its negative cost expenses within a week, the hallmark of the very best feature film investments. Twilight's $300 million in revenue after a capital risk of only $37 million is among the best of the 2000s. The only question remaining now is whether the sequels follow the trajectory of Harry Potter or the currently derailed Narnia films. Is Twilight a one-off success story or the start of something special? At this point, BOP wouldn't bet against anything Meyer does.


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