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Summit Entertainment’s The Twlight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 is all but assured of becoming only the second film this year to open north of $100 million at the lagging domestic box office — the only question being how far north.
Two years ago, The Twlight Saga: New Moon debuted on the same weekend to $142.8 million. Summit is giving a more conservative range of $110 million to $125 million for Breaking Dawn, which rolls out in theaters at midnight Thursday, but rivals are convinced it will do $135 million or better.
The only movie this year to jump $100 million in its debut was Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which earned $169.2 million in its first weekend in North America (it opened July 15).
Box office observers say there’s the potential for a record weekend as the film business gears up for Thanksgiving, between Breaking Dawn and Warner Bros.’ new 3D family toon Happy Feet Two, along with holdovers including Immortals and J. Edgar. So far, the record is the same weekend in 2009, when revenues clocked in at $259 million. There also is a chance for a record week.
At midnight Thursday, Breaking Dawn will begin playing in hundreds of theaters across the country, with many of the shows already sold out. Two years ago, New Moon did a record-breaking $26.3 million in midnight grosses, followed in summer 2010 by $30 million for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. This summer, Deathly Hallows bested that with $43.5 million in midnight grosses.
Breaking Dawn’s midnight performance will give Summit a sense of where the film will land for the weekend. The company said it’s being conservative in its weekend estimate since it’s been a year and a half since Eclipse played on screens, the longest lap in the franchise.
Breaking Dawn also opens day-and-date in 55 territories, or most of the world, where the Twilight series has done massive business as well.
Director George Miller’s Happy Feet Two may not open as high as the original Happy Feet ($41.5 million) because of Breaking Dawn, which could take away young girls and moms from the 3D toon.
Warner Bros. expects Happy Feet Two to debut in the same range as DreamWorks Animation and Paramount’s Puss in Boots ($34.1 million), but anticipates that the sequel will see especially strong numbers next week as kids break for Thanksgiving, even with plenty of competition (on Nov. 23, family pics Arthur Christmas, Hugo and The Muppets all open).