A huge weekend for "Twilight" fans has drawn to a close, and star-crossed lovers Edward and Bella are now rolling around on top of a pile of $70.55 million instead of in a flowery field.
That estimated total is enough to nearly double the film's budget in its first three days, making it 2008's biggest surprise blockbuster. A sequel, in the form of Stephenie Meyer's best-selling "New Moon," has already been green-lit. The film opened at the top spot in the box-office race, despite lukewarm reviews, capturing the fourth-best November opening of all time and the best opening weekend since "The Dark Knight" this past July. "Twilight" is also on pace to become the highest-grossing vampire film of all time and has already set a record for Catherine Hardwicke as the biggest opening for a solo-directing female.
For those of you who've been living under a rock the size of Bella Swan's '53 Chevy truck, "Twilight" is based on the best-selling novel by Meyer, which tells the story of a klutzy human (Kristen Stewart) and a sexy vampire (Robert Pattinson) who find themselves falling recklessly into a forbidden love affair. Fans have been breathlessly counting down the days to the film for more than a year, making headlines as they swarmed the movie's young stars, launched the film's soundtrack to #1, and blew out eardrums last week at the jam-packed premiere.
The "Twilight" opening is one of the most successful ever recorded for an independent film. The film's average Cinema Score grade was "A-." The audience skewed 75 percent female, and 55 percent of the moviegoers were under the age of 25. According to polling by Fandango.com, 63 percent of the "Twilight" audience plans to see the film again.
The cultural phenomenon simply proved to be too much for Disney's action-hero talking dog "Bolt," whose film of the same name earned itself a disappointing $27 million. The movie, which features the vocal talents of John Travolta and Miley Cyrus, was expected to open stronger but may have been caught up in the "Twilight" crossfire, as both films were counting heavily on attracting a teen audience.
The bad news for "Bolt" was good news for Bond, James Bond. In its second weekend, 007's "Quantum of Solace" was able to shake and stir $27.4 million from the box office, giving it a whisker-thin lead over the Disney flick for second place. With the gap between the two films being so close, however, the official silver medalist might not be sorted out for a few days.
Similarly holding strong in their follow-up weekends were the Ben Stiller cartoon "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" ($16 million) and the Paul Rudd/ Seann William Scott comedy "Role Models" ($7.2 million). Other films filling out the top 10 were "Changeling" ($2.6 million), "High School Musical 3" ($2 million) and "The Secret Life of Bees" ($1.2 million). Looking past "Twilight," however, the most eyebrows may have been raised by limited-release Oscar hopefuls "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" ($1.6 million, ninth place) and Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire," which should enter the top 10 next week after pulling in a huge per-screen average of $31,063 — nearly 50 percent more than the enormous total for "Twilight."
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