10TH UPDATE, THURSDAY 11 PM: No. 1 at the North American box office was the Twilight Saga: Eclipse with what looks like $24.2M today for a new cume of $92.8M and $110M for 5 days with a total of $178M for the 6-day July Fouth Holiday since Wednesday. That would put the pic just shy of Spider-Man 2 which holds the July 4th holiday record with $180M.
9TH UPDATE, THURSDAY 3:30 PM: Summit Entertainment is disclosing that THE TWILIGHT SAGA: Eclipse had “an incredible start” internationally. Despite great weather and the World Cup, Eclipse launched with an estimated $19M from 22 markets. The only major territories that opened on June 30th were Italy, Brazil, and Russia. Other majors like Spain, Australia and Mexico launch today. France, Germany, S. Korea and Japan will launch in the weeks to come. Here are some highlights of opening day results: Eclipse Kicks Off Big International Run
8TH UPDATE, THURSDAY 8 AM: I can report now that the 3rd film in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga series of novels is off to a record-breaking start at the North American box office. Summit Entertainment’s ECLIPSE opened to $68.5 million today which shattered the best-ever $62 million for a Wednesday single day opening set last summer by Paramount’s Transformers 2. That $68.5M included Eclipse‘s record-setting $30M from Wednesday 12:01 AM and 3 AM showings at more than 4,000 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. Eclipse also registered the biggest single day opening during the summer play period, besting The Dark Knight‘s $67.2M. But the Twilight saga’s 2nd film, New Moon, still holds the largest single day opening record of $72 million. Eclipse is playing in 4,416 domestic locations, which sets another record for the biggest ever release in Hollywood history, surpassing Iron Man 2‘s 4,380 venues.
Stay tuned for the David Slade-directed Eclipse starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner from Melissa Rosenberg’s script to set more records over this 6-day July 4th holiday weekend. I’ve learned that 57% of the audience attending opening day did so because of the “subject matter”, while 36% did so because of the actor in the lead role, and 15% because of the actress in the lead role. Eclipse received a Cinemascore overall grade of “A” with 92% of moviegoers giving the pic an A or B.
7TH UPDATE, WEDNESDAY 11 PM: My sources tonight peg today’s Eclipse opening number from 4,416 theaters to $65M, which breaks the best ever $62 million for a Wednesday opening set last summer by Paramount’s Transformers 2. That $65M includes Eclipse‘s record-setting $30M from Wednesday 12:01 AM and 3 AM showings at more than 4,000 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. But the Twilight saga’s 2nd film, New Moon, still holds the largest movie single day opening record of $72 million.
6TH UPDATE, WEDNESDAY 10:45 AM: ECLIPSE opened in excess of $30M from 12:01 AM and 3 AM screenings at over 4,000 North American theaters today for a new record. It bested the midnights record of New Moon’s $26.3M. IMAX also set a midnights record, taking in over $1M at 192 theaters and besting Transformers 2‘s $959K.
5TH UPDATE, WEDNESDAY 8 AM: Photos and anecdotes from around the USA are pouring into me overnight and this morning from the 12:01 AM and 3 AM Eclipse screenings at 4,000+ North American theaters today. Long snaking lines formed for Summit Entertainment’s third movie in the Twilight Saga franchise at the AMC Highlands Ranch just south of Denver around 4 PM Tuesday for all 2,600 seats of the sold-out midnight shows. At the Cinemark Theatre in Orem, just outside of Salt Lake City, lines began forming in the early afternoon and were wrapped around the building by 9 PM. Long queues were sighted at the Cinemark Valley View in Cleveland. Same scene at the AMC Tyson’s Corner Movie Theater , a suburb of Washington DC. The first line formed at 8 PM Tuesday at the AMC Garden State Plaza in Paramus, a suburb of NYC. Twi-Hards in Detroit were out in force at the MJR Marketplace where people who’d pledged allegiance to the Cullen family or the Wolf Pack waited hours in line. All 20 theaters were sold out for their midnight showings. Fans indulged in trivia and in detailed Edward vs. Jacob debates while they waited in line wearing their Twilight Saga T-shirts. In Bellevue outside Seattle, 1,300 people stood in line for midnight shows at Lincoln Square. Crowds also formed in LA, Manhattan, and Chicago.
TUESDAY 11PM: I can report that theaters are mobbed by Twi-hards at Wednesday 12:01 AM screenings in Boston, NYC, Washington DC, Paramus N.J., Detroit, Cleveland, Denver, Salt Lake City, Bellevue WA, as well as in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Brazil, Mexico, Philippines, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Africa, Hungary, and Finland.
Because unless you dwell underground or are a heterosexual male (just kidding), then you know that theaters across the U.S. and Canada and overseas are crowded with females of all ages for the opening of Eclipse. They need their feature film fix of heroine Bella deciding between Team Jacob vs Team Edward played by Kristin Stewart, Taylor Lautner, and Robert Pattinson as novelized by Stephenie Meyer and scripted by Melissa Rosenberg.
Around noon today I broke the news that Summit Entertainment is releasing the third movie in the Twilight Saga franchise into a record 4,416 theaters in North America. That’s the biggest ever in Hollywood history, surpassing Iron Man 2 which scored 4,380 venues. Over 4,000 theaters in North America ran 12:01 AM screenings Wednesday of the film including all 193 IMAX locations. Several theater chains and 120 IMAX theaters also programmed 3:00 AM screenings to meet fan demand. The movie currently accounts for 91% of Fandango’s daily online ticket sales. From Fandango’s most recent survey of more than 1,000 Eclipse ticket-buyers: Eclipse has stronger date night appeal than New Moon or Twilight and its action is a bigger draw than before. At this point it is expected that additional theaters will be added for Friday, July 2nd. Just how many will be known in the next day or two.
Internationally the film will debut this week in 42 territories including Australia, Italy, Spain, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Belgium, Netherlands, Philippines, Turkey, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, among others.
The studio isn’t playing the lowering expectations game this time around; Summit execs know Eclipse is going to be huge. The only question is whether it’ll surpass the Twilight sequel New Moon which was the biggest yet. ”New Moon set the bar so high as a cultural phenomenon that Eclipse can only try to reach that number,” a Summit exec told me. A lot is going to depend on whether Eclipse will attract more men because of its high-octane vampires vs werewolves brawling directed by 30 Days Of Night horror film helmer David Slade.
Going into Wednesday, 3 of the 4 major tracking services pegged Eclipse to New Moon numbers: an opening weekend of $142.8M domestic (and an eventual worldwide total of $710M). It’s likely that Eclipse’s front-loaded 6-day opening could gross anywhere from $150M to $179M. (Spider-Man 2 holds the July 4th holiday record with $180M.) All on a budget of just $68M. That fact alone makes the major studios green with envy.
The fandemonium has been frenzied for months: the TWILIGHT SAGA Facebook page now has 6.665 million fans. It’s the largest of all the film pages, with more fans than Iron Man, Harry Potter, Transformers, and Toy Story Facebook pages combined. So many Twi-hards stood in line in advance of last week’s Eclipse premiere that Summit Entertainment had to set up two tent cities in Downtown Los Angeles. Eclipse has been both Fandango’s and MovieTickets.com’s top advance ticket-seller of the year. This week, Entertainment Weekly, the official magazine of receptionists, has a cover line proclaiming Eclipse the “best of the Twilight Saga so far”.
Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.