Final Twilight's $341m farewell party

2012-11-19 11:01
Los Angeles - The Twilight vampire saga's final chapter debuted with a massive $341m in global movie ticket sales as devoted fans bid farewell to blood-sucking spouses Bella and Edward and one of Hollywood's biggest franchises.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 earned an estimated $141m in the United States and Canada over the weekend, falling slightly short of a record for the supernatural romance series about a human-vampire-werewolf love triangle.

The total, which includes sales from late night Thursday through Sunday, ranked as the eight biggest domestic film debut of all time. Late-night Thursday screenings comprised $30.4m of the $141 million total.

Fan fever for the fifth Twilight movie raged high around the world. Breaking Dawn - Part 2 rang up sales of $199.6m from Thursday to Sunday at theatres in 61 countries for a worldwide total of $341m, distributor Summit Entertainment said on Sunday.

The earlier Twilight films pulled in a combined $2.5bn at global box offices over a four-year run. The success lifted tiny studio Summit Entertainment into Hollywood's big leagues and paved the way for its $412m acquisition in January by Lions Gate Entertainment.

New Moon scored the biggest debut of the series, grossing $142.8m over its first three days in 2009.

Pop culture infatuation

The movies based on a series of best-selling young adult books by Stephenie Meyer ignited a pop culture infatuation with blood-sucking vampires and werewolves.

The films star Kristen Stewart as human-turned-vampire Bella Swan, Robert Pattinson as her vampire love Edward Cullen, and Taylor Lautner as werewolf Jacob Black, who competes for Bella's affection.

Summit spent $120m to produce Breaking Dawn - Part 2, which concludes the tale with newly turned vampire Bella and husband Edward in a high-stakes battle to protect their half-human, half-vampire daughter from an ancient vampire clan. The couple enlist the extended Cullen family in their fight.

Fans of the series, mostly teen girls nicknamed Twi-hards, embraced the final film, which includes a surprise twist that was not in the final book.

Audience vs critics

Audiences polled by CinemaScore awarded the movie an "A" grade, with an "A+" from filmgoers under age 25, according to Summit. Critics were less supportive. Fifty-one percent of reviews collected on the Rotten Tomatoes website were positive.

Summit Entertainment's president of domestic distribution Richie Fay said though the vast majority of the audience was female, he expected more male viewers than for previous Twilight films.

"The male audience has increased a good bit, and the ratings among males are higher I think in part to the action in the film," he said.

Author Meyer has not ruled out the possibility of more stories in the vampire-werewolf universe but said she has closed the chapter on the Cullens.

Filling the Twilight void

Hollywood is eager to fill the void after the success of Twilight highlighted the power of young adult stories on the big screen.

Studios are bringing at least four new films based on popular young adult novels to theatres next year as well as the sequel to the newest teen movie sensation, The Hunger Games.

Other box office results

The Twilight excitement eclipsed all other movies over the weekend. Last week's winner, James Bond movie Skyfall finished in second place with $41.5m at North American theatres.

Historical drama Lincoln expanded from a limited opening a week ago and landed in third place with $21m. The movie stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president near the end of his life as he battles to ban slavery and end the Civil War.

In fourth place, Walt Disney Co animated movie Wreck-It Ralph, about a videogame character who destroys everything in his path, pulled in $18.3m. Denzel Washington drama Flight earned $8.6m and the No 5 spot.