Box Office Guru Wrapup: Breaking Dawn Enjoys A Monster Debut

Skyfall and Lincoln follow behind in a strong weekend.

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This weekend, the ever-reliable Twi-hards came out like clockwork one last time for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 which shot straight to number one leading a frame that saw North American multiplexes overflowing with traffic. With the James Bond adventure Skyfall still strong in the runner-up spot, Steven Spielberg's Oscar bait Lincoln opening nationally in third place, and some notable holdovers, the box office powered to a stunning $240M+ making it the second biggest weekend of the year trailing only the session that saw The Avengers make its record-shattering premiere.

The fifth and final film installment of the popular Twilight franchise, Breaking Dawn Part 2, towered over its competitors with an opening weekend of $141.3M, according to studio estimates. That made for a scorching $34,717 average from 4,070 locations with no boost in ticket prices from IMAX or 3D. That marked the second biggest opening of the series behind the $142.8M of New Moon which opened this same weekend in 2009. It was also just a tick up from the $138.1M of Breaking Dawn Part 1 from this weekend last year showing that the fan base has been coming out consistently over the years and not eroding by any significant amount. That's rare for a five-part film series and matches the consistent loyalty shown over the years by Harry Potter fans. Summit's newest Bella pic ranks as the eighth largest opening of all-time and second highest for November behind New Moon. The turnout was massive and Twilight can now claim three spots on the list of all-time biggest opening weekends. The only other franchise to have multiple installments is Christopher Nolan's Batman with the last two Dark Knight films.

Audience breakdowns showed that females were the majority making up 79% of the crowd compared to 80% for the last pic. Those under and over 25 were split evenly. Some good news came from moviegoers polled by CinemaScore as Breaking Dawn Part 2 earned a solid A grade (better than last one's B+). But that should not mean too much to a franchise film like this with so much upfront demand. New Moon and Breaking Dawn Part 1 both did 48-49% of their total domestic business on opening weekend despite having Thanksgiving fall on their sophomore frames (70% drops in each case). Part 2 should be no different putting it on a trajectory to end up with $280-290M.

Being a global pop culture phenomenon, and featuring a more international stable of vampire characters this time around, Breaking Dawn Part 2 did spectacular business abroad with an estimated $199.6M from 61 territories this weekend putting its worldwide opening at a jaw-dropping $340.9M, up from the $284M global debut of the last film in the saga. To date, the five Twilight films have grossed a remarkable $2.84 billion worldwide with each of the three sequels having finished right near the $700M mark. The franchise could very well close its books with $3.3 billion from global box office plus countless more from home entertainment, merchandising, and other revenue streams.

Following its record opening, the latest James Bond adventure Skyfall enjoyed a good hold dropping a reasonable 53% to an estimated $41.5M boosting the domestic cume to a sensational $161.3M after ten days of wide release plus an extra day of large-format-only play. The Sony/MGM smash is just a few days away from surpassing the $168.4M of the last installment Quantum of Solace and the $167.4M of 2006's Casino Royale and become the highest-grossing 007 film ever in North America (many past installments over the decades have sold more tickets, though). At its current pace, Skyfall could reach $250M domestically which would be sharply ahead of what this franchise has been able to do.

The newest Bond film continued to rock the global box office with an estimated $49.6M from international markets this weekend lifting the overseas total to $507.9M and the worldwide haul to an eye-popping $669.2M breaking, the franchise record of $599.2M set in 2006 by Casino Royale. Skyfall is now the biggest Bond ever both internationally and globally and still has plenty of fuel in the tank with Australia, Japan, and China yet to open. Overseas, it is now the third biggest live-action blockbuster of 2012 behind just The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises and should surpass the Batflick over the coming weeks on its way to breaking the billion-dollar mark worldwide. Propelled by Skyfall, Sony has now grossed over $4 billion globally this year -- a new company high.

Audiences reacted to stellar reviews and growing Oscar talk by coming out in large numbers for Steven Spielberg's latest film Lincoln which expanded nationwide with an estimated $21M from 1,775 theaters for a sizzling $11,831 average per location. The PG-13 pic starring Daniel Day-Lewis going for his third Best Actor trophy playing the 16th U.S. President played to older adults and fared quite well despite Skyfall doing so well with the same demographic. Produced by DreamWorks and released by Disney, Lincoln debuted in limited play last weekend in just 11 theaters and is now available to moviegoers in all major markets. And with an encouraging A grade from CinemaScore, the road ahead looks promising.

Disney's hit toon Wreck-It Ralph fell by 45% in its third round to an estimated $18.3M and has boosted its 17-day sum to $121.5M with the lucrative Thanksgiving frame coming up shortly. Family audiences will get some new choices on Wednesday with the DreamWorks 3D animated film Rise of the Guardians launching in 3,500 theaters along with Fox's PG-rated 3D survival-at-sea adventure Life of Pi setting sail in 2,700 locations. Also bowing wide is the remake Red Dawn in 2,600 sites.

Male-led adult dramas followed. Denzel Washington's Flight dropped 42% in its third weekend to an estimated $8.6M giving the Robert Zemeckis-directed film $61.3M to date for Paramount. The studio added another 565 playdates helping the overall hold. Flight's per-theater average declines over its holdover weekends have been 45% and 54%.

The hostage hit Argo grossed an estimated $4.1M, down 39%, putting Warner Bros. at $92M. The Oscar hopeful will soon surpass the $92.2M of Ben Affleck's last directorial effort The Town which generated plenty of Oscar buzz when it was released two years ago only to fail to land the coveted Best Picture and Best Director nominations. Argo is looking to be a definite player in those races this time. Liam Neeson's action sequel Taken 2 tumbled 48% to an estimated $2.1M and has grossed $134.6M to date for Fox. It should finish its domestic run only slightly behind the $145M of its 2009 predecessor.

Universal's leggy comedy Pitch Perfect took a beating with young women sprinting towards Bella this weekend. The college hit took in an estimated $1.3M, off 51%, for a $62M cume. Also falling hard was the Kevin James comedy Here Comes the Boom with an estimated $1.2M, down 52%, for a $41M cume for Sony.

Three very different films tied for tenth place according to studio estimates released on Sunday with each estimating a weekend take of $900,000. The sci-fi epic Cloud Atlas collapsed by 66% and has banked a dismal $24.9M while Sony's animated hit Hotel Transylvania fell by 63% with $142.7M to date and $283M worldwide. Expanding in its fifth round was Fox Searchlight's indie pic The Sessions which averaged a weak $1,744 from 516 theaters and a $2.8M sum thus far.

A pair of films launched in limited release hoping for prolonged runs that lead to healthy box office plus plenty of Oscar nominations. The bigger bow came from Silver Linings Playbook starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence which grossed an estimated $458,000 from 16 theaters for a solid $28,652 average. The Weinstein Co. release won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival this fall and is seen as a possible Best Picture contender. Reviews were sensational and the distributor goes wider on Wednesday into 400 additional theaters for the long turkey weekend aiming for sophisticated adults.

Keira Knightley's latest costume drama Anna Karenina opened in 16 locations as well and collected an estimated $315,000 this weekend for a good $19,712 average. Focus will be taking a slower approach to its roll-out and widen to 64 total theaters this Wednesday including an expansion into a dozen new markets. Reviews have been positive but not exactly glowing.

The top ten films surged to an estimated $240.3M which was up 13% from last year when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 debuted at number one with $138.1M; and up 30% from 2010 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 opened on top with $125M.



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