Weekend Box Office Review: Cedric Diggory Crushes Harry Potter -- Twilight Saga: New Moon Opens With $142 Million

If you're a Batman fan or a general guy-centric geek, you're probably thinking "That was close... too close". If you're a Twi-fanatic, you're thinking something along the lines of "We'll get you next time Batman, next time!" (Eclipse comes out June 30th, 2010). Either way, Twilight Saga: New Moon pulled in a massive $142.8 million over its first three days. That's the third-biggest opening weekend of all time, behind Spider-Man 3 ($151 million) and The Dark Knight ($158 million). I discussed the Friday opening in much detail, so I'll try to avoid repetition (which is why I usually don't write posts concerning Friday box office). Let's dive right in...

Midnight - $26.2 million - Best midnight-3am gross.
Friday - $72.7 million - Best Friday ever and best single day ever.
Saturday - $42.2 million - 7th-biggest Saturday (-41% from Friday).
Sunday - $27.8 million - 17th-biggest Sunday (-34% from Saturday)

The Twilight franchise has become the first series to slightly increase its weekend multiplier between the first and second films. Sequels are by nature more highly anticipated and thus more likely to gross a bigger portion of its opening gross on the opening day. Twilight had the second-lowest weekend multiplier (that's total weekend divided by opening day) on record with 1.938x. New Moon actually decreased the multiplier by just a fraction (1.96x). As far as the original-to-sequel increase, New Moon improved upon its predecessors opening weekend by a 2.02 times. So it fits right in between above the Bourne series (there was 193% increase between Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy). And you all thought that list was a waste of time? Want some stunning comparisons? In two days, New Moon grossed $115.9 million, surpassing the (then record) $114.8 million three-day weekend for Spider-Man. In three days, New Moon surpassed the five-day opening gross of Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix ($139 million), while coming up just $16 million short of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's five-day opening ($158 million). It outgrossed Prince Caspian's total $141.6 million domestic gross in three days. And the entire domestic gross of every non-Twilight film that Summit has released since November 2007 (starting with the underrated P2) is just $234 million. Whether that says more about Twilight or Summit Entertainment, I'll leave for you to decide, but New Moon will surpass the entire non-Twilight Summit catalog in the next week or two. Which means, in my personal opinion, Summit either needs to learn how to market non-Twilight product or get themselves sold before this series comes to an end.

Here's another fun statistic... the audience for this huge weekend was 80% female. So, if you looked anything like Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner and were willing to tag along at the movies this weekend, there's a pretty healthy chance that you got laid over the last 72 hours. Prurient humor aside, it's kinda refreshing to see a major franchise where the males of objectified more than the females. This opening weekend completely dispels one of the cardinal rules of thumb regarding movies, which is that a strong interest from both genders is necessary for a massive opening weekend and long-term playability. Iron Man opened to $98 million because girls wanted to see it as well as boys. 300 appealed to both sexes while Watchmen floundered because of its (alleged) strict boys appeal. And pretty much every major mega-opening was a stereotypical boy movie that had enough appeal for women to draw them into the theaters as well (conventional wisdom dictates that girls will see boy movies but boys won't sit through girl movies). Well, if you take out that 20% male audience, then you still get $114.1 million, which would still make it the biggest three-day weekend of 2009 and the eighth-biggest of all time. Take that, conventional wisdom. I wish the test case had been Whip It, but oh well.

So where does this leave the movie over the long run? It basically can run the boards for the next month, until the one-two punch of Avatar and Sherlock Holmes at the end of the year. There are only two movies that have opened with over $100 million and failed to reach $300 million. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire brought in $102.6 million on this same weekend in 2005, but ended up settling for a 'mere' $290 million. And X-Men: the Last Stand brought in $102.7 million as part of a $122 million four-day Memorial Day weekend in 2006, but audience discontent and general front-loading caused the movie to only make $234 million. And New Moon has a $40 million head-start and a general lack of demo competition, so it's likely game-set-match for Team Dakota... err Team Edward. Barring unprecedented collapse, New Moon will make it to $300 million. Despite the massively front-loaded weekend, the first film actually stuck around in theaters long enough to nearly make it to the $200 million mark. If it equals the total-gross multiplier of Twilight ($192.7 million/$69.6 million = 2.76), then it will end up with a boffo $394 million. However, it IS a sequel and it may very-well play like a quick-kill blockbuster. But even if it performs like the more frontloaded movies of 2009 (Madea Goes to Jail, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, etc) with around a 2.2x weekend-to-total multiplier, it still ends up with $314 million. Heck, if it surpasses The Jonas Brothers 3D Concert Experience as the most frontloaded movie of all time ($19.1 million divided by $12.5 million opening = 1.528x multiplier), that still nets the vampire sequel $218 million. Of course, that's about as likely to happen as the other extreme of it surpassing Titanic, but I do so enjoy doing the math.

Yes, other movies besides New Moon came out this weekend. To learn which actress scored her personal best debut for the second time this year, and how Oprah Winfrey turned her big news into a boon for Precious, visit Mendelson's Memos.

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