By David Mumpower
June 30, 2010
In addition, there are signs in place that even more is expected of the franchise from this point on. For no apparent reason other than a blatant cash grab, the fourth book is being split into two movies, meaning that there will be five Twilight Saga films. That’s like ten hours of overwrought teen angst on film, which has to be a record of some sort. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not someone who hates the Twilight franchise. To the contrary, I’m in awe of what has been accomplished here. Ms. Meyer has bedazzled vampires and suddenly made them into something the public perceives as new and exciting. Would Bram Stoker slap her in the face for the heresy of it? Perhaps. Would he be jealous of the money she has made over the past five years? Absolutely.
What matters is that Summit Entertainment has delivered a pair of films of questionable quality that have been instantly adopted as the Gone with the Wind of our time by women of all ages. Now we’ve reached the middle of the film franchise and the shocking word is that Eclipse, the latest example of Bella feeling forlorn and conflicted, is the best of the three films to date. While I maintain that this is akin to being the best Uwe Boll film (sorry, Twihards, I want to love your thing but those first two films gnaw at my soul they’re so terrible…particular apologies to my teen niece), the reality is that it’s a huge selling point. The most passionate fans have been willing to overlook some of the shortcomings of the first two titles but imagine the outpouring of support for a movie that is, you know, really good.
Where does this leave Eclipse in terms of opening weekend? There are several factors in play here. The first is that the Wednesday debut means that a massive chuck of potential weekend box office will be eaten up prior to the weekend. Both previous Twilight releases have earned roughly half of their weekend box office on the same day. Eclipse will perform slightly differently in that a certain segment of fans will wait until the (semi)holiday weekend to see the film. No, the obsessive sorts will not, but I don’t expect an opening weekend anywhere near on the order of the last one.
Instead, we’ll see a massive Wednesday, a massive decline on Thursday, a spike on Friday that still falls short of Wednesday, a Saturday that probably falls short of Wednesday and then a Sunday that will function as a July 4th holiday. We’ve discussed in the past the way that July 4th can negatively impact box office due to the celebratory behavioral patterns of consumers, but July 4th falling on Sunday means that a large percentage of American workers will be given Monday as a vacation day; ergo, Sunday box office will be solid. Then again, there is a chance that by its fifth day of release, Eclipse already begins to depreciate due to the frontloading pattern of the prior films combined with the Wednesday/holiday release. Potential consumers will have had ample time by then to go see the movie if so inclined, similar to what happened to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen last year. That Michael Bay atrocity earned almost exactly half of its $402 million during its first five days in release. The frontloading percentage would have been even higher if it had debuted a week later when July 4th fell. There are a lot of moving parts in play here. My expectation is that we’re looking at $75 million during the Wednesday/Thursday period and $105 million over “opening weekend”. That total would represent a five-day debut of $180 million, an increase of 9.3% from New Moon’s $164.7 million, a respectable growth for a short period of only seven months or so.
We'll return later this week with our forecast for the box office of The Last Airbender.