New Moon Eclipses Box Office Records
By John Hamann
November 22, 2009
Like it, hate it, or despise it, the Twilight franchise means big money for all involved. Yes, the always-huge pre-Thanksgiving weekend in 2009 has brought us The Twilight Saga: New Moon, the not-so-great sequel to the not-so-great original that is based on Stephenie Meyer's not-so-great series of books aimed at the teen set. Mediocrity be damned, New Moon stormed the box office this weekend, taking down a number of box office records. Other openers living in the shadow of New Moon are Sandra Bullock's The Blind Side and the new animated feature Planet 51. Add in the second weekend of 2012, and the third weekend of A Christmas Carol, and we have an historic weekend to remember at the box office.
Our number one film is of course The Twilight Saga: New Moon, the current ruler of the pop culture world. After opening at midnight on Thursday to a ludicrous $26.3 million from midnight showings alone (my parents would have killed me for staying out until 2 a.m. on a Thursday), we knew the first day of box office was pretty much a lock to take down The Dark Knight's record of $67.2 million for a single day gross. As BOP's Tim Briody reported yesterday, that record-setting total came in at a (literally) staggering $72.7 million, which means New Moon didn't only beat The Dark Knight's record, it trounced the previous high. That single day is bigger than any opening weekend that any Universal Pictures film has ever had; bigger than The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King grossed over its opening Friday-Sunday; about what the top 12 films grossed over the entire weekend of December 7-9, 2007, when the director of New Moon's prior film, The Golden Compass, earned $25.8 million; and more than Michael Jackson's This Is It has earned domestically thus far. Not bad for a day's work, eh?
Even if we strip out those midnight screenings (which were arguably Thursday night shows), the opening day gross is still $46.4 million, good enough on its own to be in the top ten opening days of all time. With the massive opening day, all of a sudden, The Dark Knight's record three-day gross of $158.4 million could be (conceivably) in jeopardy, but let's remember who and what we're talking about. When the original Twilight opened over the same weekend last year, it also had a huge opening day of $36 million, with $7.5 million of that coming from midnight screenings. After that first day, some thought Twilight was heading toward an $80 million opening frame, as it would have needed only a 2.8 weekend multiplier (weekend gross less midnight screenings, divided by Friday gross) to accomplish that task, a multiplier that most movies have no problem hitting. When the final results were tallied, the opening weekend for Twilight came in at $69.6 million, well off of that $80-90 million target. The original film had a horrible internal first weekend multiplier at only 2.4, and it earned half of its weekend gross on opening day. This provided me with what was my first real taste of Twi-Hards, the voracious fanbase that follows this series. Greasy Fan Boys (and Girls) be damned.