Weekend Wrap-Up for July 2-4, 2010

Total Eclipse of the Box Office

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

July 4, 2010

Vampires have a very strict dress code (a lot of denim is required).

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All eyes were on vampires, lycanthropes and ambivalent teen girls this week as the latest Stephenie Meyer adaptation, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse entered theaters. What has transpired has been a bumpy ride for box office analysts as the film’s performance has been all over the place. Midnight exhibitions of the latest adventures of blood-sucking Edward, shirt-removing Jacob and icon-of-angst Bella Swan were record setting. The franchise had earned $30 million before creatures of the night had returned to their coffins that evening.

Within 24 hours, Eclipse had accrued $68.5 million, giving the Twilight franchise the two biggest single days of box office ever. New Moon still held the record by $2.3 million, but its performance occurred on a Friday whereas Eclipse opened on Wednesday. In its own way, Eclipse had the more impressive opening day and expectations were raised for the next four days. Alas, Eclipse has faded a bit since then. After a respectable but unimpressive $24.2 million on Thursday, Eclipse had $92.7 million in the bank before the weekend started. Surprisingly, that total represents more than half of what the Summit Entertainment release has earned after five days.

The number one film in North America this weekend is of course The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The margin of victory is less significant than anticipated, though. Eclipse earned an estimated $69.0 million over the three-day weekend period. If that number holds, this is the worst opening of the three Stephenie Meyer films to date. Yes, it is misleading in that early adopter demand was met before the start of the weekend. Yet, it is still fair to say that Eclipse’s five-day performance is a bit of a disappointment. Consider that New Moon earned $164.7 million over its first five days in theaters with two of the included days being a Monday and Tuesday. Eclipse has been released during a lucrative box office period yet managed “only” $161.7 million.


Does this mean that the Twilight brand has been diminished in some way? Absolutely not. The Harry Potter franchise experienced the same fate when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a November release, debuted to $102.3 million, still a record for that series. Then, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, a July release, managed “only” $77.1 million in its debut. Pertinent information about this is that Order of the Phoenix had a final domestic tally of $292.0 million, thereby edging Goblet of Fire’s $290.0 million.

We should also keep in mind that there is another important comparison model for this scenario. As we chronicled earlier in the week here at BOP, Spider-Man 2 followed the same release pattern as Eclipse and it also faced the same July 4th on Sunday calendar configuration. That film had an opening weekend of $88.2 million, which seems to be inferior to the original’s then-record $114.8 million debut. Spider-Man 2 had a five day tally of $152.4 million, however, which exceeds the $135.8 million the original managed. It also bears noting that Spider-Man 3 had an opening weekend of $151.1 million, yet its final domestic box office of $336.5 million falls short of Spider-Man 2’s 373.5 million.

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