‘Twilight’ Scores Series’ 2nd Best Open at $141.1 Million

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2,” the final film in the teen vampire series, opened in first place in U.S. and Canadian theaters this weekend, collecting $141.1 million for Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

The total, reported in an e-mail today from researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office, made it the second-best debut for the five films based on the novels by Stephenie Meyer. Overall, it’s the eighth-biggest weekend opening ever.

“Breaking Dawn - Part 2” concludes a series that generated $2.5 billion in worldwide ticket sales from the first four films. The success of the franchise has contributed to a rush among Hollywood studios to acquire rights to young-adult fiction with similar multifilm potential.

“They’ve been very successful at keeping it a relevant part of pop culture and because of that people are coming out even though they know what happens in the book,” said Gitesh Pandya, editor of BoxOfficeGuru.com in New York, in a telephone interview. “They want to see the big-screen adaptation of that.”

“The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” which premiered two years ago, had the highest opening gross for the series with $142.8 million in its debut.

In the latest picture, Kristen Stewart reprises the role of Bella Cullen, now a vampire, who uses her new powers to defend her family against a threat of extermination by the Volturi, the undead world’s ruling coven.

Gold Rush

The Cullens get unexpected help from smaller vampire clans and a neighboring pack of werewolves. The final scenes of the film, directed by Bill Condon, offers a surprise twist not found in Meyer’s book. The film’s other key stars, including Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, also return for the finale.

The “Twilight” series and “The Hunger Games,” also from Lions Gate, have sparked a gold rush of sorts among studios that see an opportunity to hook young-adult audiences with themes that magnify the real-life concerns of teens today, according to Thomas Morrissey, an English professor at State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

The last three “Twilight” films have produced about $700 million in worldwide ticket sales each, according to researcher Box Office Mojo, suggesting the franchise will reach $3.2 billion when the last pictures closes its run.

13th Amendment

“Lincoln,” Steven Spielberg’s examination of the 16th U.S. president’s political campaign to end slavery, was third with $21 million in its first weekend in nationwide release.

Daniel Day-Lewis portrays the president as he maneuvers to win congressional approval of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. Unlike most Spielberg films, “Lincoln” has little action, focusing instead on negotiations and debates held inside the White House and the Capitol.

The film is considered a probable nominee for Academy Awards, including best picture, best actor for Day-Lewis, and best director for Spielberg.

“Lincoln” was produced by the director’s DreamWorks Studios and is being distributed by Walt Disney Co. Day-Lewis leads in the acting category with odds of nine-to-five that he will win the Oscar, according to GoldDerby.com, a website that aggregates predictions by journalists. He’s followed Joaquin Phoenix, with four-to-one odds for his role in “The Master.”

Shaken, Stirred

“Skyfall,” the latest James Bond film and the third starring Daniel Craig, fell to second from first with sales of $41.1 million for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Sony Corp.

The movie became the highest-grossing Bond film ever this weekend, with $668.8 million in worldwide sales, according to Box Office Mojo. “Skyfall” may top $1 billion once the film opens in Asia, Pandya said.

“The movie has made all this money without a dime from Japan or China,” Pandya said. “So those are two huge markets that are still to come. It has a chance at being a billion-dollar Bond.”

In this installment, Agent 007 is presumed dead after being shot accidentally by an MI6 colleague. After a surprise return, he battles a new villain, played by Javier Bardem, who has kidnapped agency chief M, portrayed by Judi Dench, and has stolen a list of Western intelligence agents.

Bond is the fifth-biggest movie franchise of all time. The previous films averaged $204.7 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales when adjusted for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo. The series, based on the secret agent created by British novelist Ian Fleming, started in 1963 with “Dr. No,” starring Sean Connery. Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan have also played the role.

‘Wreck-It Ralph’

The Bond franchise has “never been stronger,” and “is well positioned for probably another decade-worth of success,” Pandya said.

Disney’s animated “Wreck-It Ralph” fell to fourth place from second with $18.6 million. It stars John C. Reilly as the voice of a video game character who grows weary of playing the villain in a vintage arcade game.

“Flight,” featuring Denzel Washington as a pilot who averts a major airline disaster, was fifth with $8.8 million in sales for Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 13 percent to $242.4 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Domestic film sales this year have risen 4.8 percent to $9.41 billion, with attendance up 4.7 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales from Nov. 16 to Nov. 18.

                        Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                  (mln) Theaters Theater   Chg.   (mln) Wks
 1 THE TWILIGHT SAGA  $141.1   4,070   $34,660    --  $141.1   1
 2 SKYFALL              41.1   3,505    11,727   -53   160.9   2
 3 LINCOLN              21.0   1,775    11,859 2,129    22.5   2
 4 WRECK-IT RALPH       18.6   3,622     5,131   -44   121.8   3
 5 FLIGHT                8.8   2,612     3,370   -40    61.5   3
 6 ARGO                  4.0   2,210     1,831   -39    92.0   6
 7 TAKEN 2               2.1   2,063     1,031   -47   134.7   7
 8 JAB TAK HAI JAAN      1.3     160     8,022    --     1.9   1
 9 PITCH PERFECT         1.3   1,122     1,130   -51    61.1   8
10 HERE COMES THE BOOM   1.2   1,350       869   -54    41.0   6
11 HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA    0.9   1,248       756   -61   142.7   8
12 CLOUD ATLAS           0.9     920     1,010   -65    24.9   4

Top 12 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $242.4 $215.0 +13

Year-to-date Revenue

2012 2011 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $9,405 $8,972 +4.8 Year-to-date Attendance: +4.7%
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