Breaking Dawn = New Moon for the Box Office
By John Hamann
November 20, 2011
One down, one to go. Part one of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn was released upon us this weekend (I'll take the Kraken, thanks), and as expected, is one of the biggest openers of all time. Breaking Dawn Part 1 took in a blistering $139.5 million this weekend, but was only able to basically tie the success of 2009's Twilight Saga: New Moon, the last Twilight film to use the pre-Thanksgiving release pattern. Opening in the shadow of Breaking Dawn is Happy Feet 2, George Miller's sequel to the leggy 2006 release. The result for the sequel isn't quite Babe: Pig in the City, but it ain't great either.
Yes, our number one film is The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1, and the gross is staggering. As Tim Briody reported yesterday, Breaking Dawn earned a powerful $30.2 from midnight screenings. Eclipse earned $30.1 million in 2010, while New Moon took in $26.3 million from midnights in 2009. Breaking Dawn went to on to have a full Friday gross of $72 million – slightly behind New Moon, which had a first full Friday gross of $72.7 million. The last film, Eclipse, had a softer first day at $68.5 million, but opened on a Wednesday, as the mid-week opening trimmed the debut number. For Breaking Dawn, the Friday figure did not help determine which would be the biggest weekend for a Twilight movie – Breaking Dawn or New Moon. The winner ends up being New Moon by a few million, as the final weekend estimate for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn is $139.5 million, making it the fifth biggest weekend gross of all time, behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($169.2 million), The Dark Knight ($158.4 million), Spider-Man 3 ($151.1 million), and The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($142.8 million). The opening Friday is the third biggest, behind Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($91.1 million) and Twilight: New Moon ($72.7 million). As for worldwide grosses, the number for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 is plenty gaudy, with $283.5 million, which is the largest for the series so far, edging out New Moon's $274.8 million.
At this point, I think we can say it's fairly obvious that the audience for the Twilight series is not growing, so if your kid is not infected with this zombie plague yet, they likely won't be. With these large box office numbers, it's almost unsettling how close Breaking Dawn and New Moon are. The Harry Potter series was similar, but did show some growth, with its November opening weekends moving from $90.3 million to $88.4 million in 2001 and 2002, and then up to $102.7 million in 2005 and finally reaching $125 million in 2010.
The Twilight series has been tucked into a shorter overall time period, so it didn't have the gestation period that Potter had. There simply wasn't much opportunity to bring new Twihards into the fold. It also didn't help that these films just aren't much good. This one was only 27% fresh at RottenTomatoes (21% from "Top Critics"), which is a letdown as Eclipse actually showed some promise. It was 49% fresh, but "Top Critics" came in at 65%. New Moon's box office is not the only thing eerily similar to Breaking Dawn, as the review count is also eerily similar. New Moon was 28% fresh, much like Breaking Dawn.