Breaking Dawn = New Moon for the Box Office
By John Hamann
November 20, 2011
Now Twihards will have to wait another year for Part 2, a strategy I find puzzling. The Harry Potter franchise split its last installment into two parts as well, releasing the first in November 2010, and the second the following summer. That combo earned $2.3 billion worldwide. Why would Summit not want to do the same thing here? It could be because home video has been very kind to the Twilight Series, racking up hundreds of millions of dollars. Home video sales alone will pay the production costs on this one, which came in at $110 million after tax rebates. However, the production figure doesn't really jive with what the stars were rumoured to receive. Some say Robert Pattinson, Kirsten Stewart and the werewolf are getting $25 million for both films. Regardless, this will be a windfall for Summit Entertainment, but with only one more film to come, their luck is running out.
Finishing second is Happy Feet Two, which failed to earn as much as the original or meet tracking expectations this weekend. From Mad Max and Babe director George Miller, Happy Feet Two got lost in the shadow of Twilight, earning only $22 million from 3,606 venues, many of them 3D. The original Happy Feet danced up $41.5 million over the same weekend of November in 2006. Happy Feet was a big story then because it took down the opening frame of the rebooted James Bond in Casino Royale, which earned $40 million that weekend. Was it that reason that Warner Bros. decided to release the sequel against The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn? My two beagles knew that Breaking Dawn was going to earn $130 million plus and crowd theatres with wannabe goths and vampires, thus making the pie smaller for other films.
It's true that Thanksgiving is already crowded with kids films. Arthur Christmas, Hugo, and The Muppets launch next weekend – but wouldn't that be another reason to choose another release date? No films are being released on December 2nd, and December 9th brings only films for adults. So why choose this weekend? The original Happy Feet did have serious legs (its opening to total multiplier was just short of 5.0), but it also was a much better film. The original was 75% fresh at RottenTomatoes, but the sequel has posted a 43% fresh rating. We are left with a film that is not as good, facing off with an uber-blockbuster. One might think that the budget for Happy Feet Two was insignificant, but it's the complete opposite. Happy Feet Two cost $135 million to make, and with this opening, the sequel will have to earn at least five times its gross just to match the production budget. In my humble opinion – and overseas grosses will prove me wrong –the release date choice for Happy Feet Two has condemned it.
Finishing third is last weekend's champ Immortals, something the box office for the Greek epic is certainly not. Immortals earned only $12.2 million after debuting to a mighty $32.2 million last weekend. That gives the Tarsem Singh picture a searing weekend-to-weekend drop of 62%. The $75 million Relativity Media release had no chance against Breaking Dawn, and can only hope to surge over the Thanksgiving weekend, when no new titles for adults are released. The good news for Relativity is that foreign grosses are already starting to heat up, with almost $40 million in the bank so far. The domestic total has reached $53 million.