Weekend Box Office: Vampires Slaughter Penguins

If you haven’t noticed by now, the ‘Twilight Saga’ is completely critic-proof. Despite warranting a low 27% Rotten Tomatoes score, the fourth installment of the series just earned the rank of fifth highest-grossing opening weekend in the U.S., and tenth highest-grossing opening weekend worldwide.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1‘ pulling in an astonishing $139.5 million in its first three days. $30.25 million came from late Thursday midnight showings. As expected, 80% of the U.S. audiences were composed of females. But unlike the previous three releases, 50% were over the age of 25. (The previous average was 46%.) From what I’ve seen personally, it seems like many ‘Twilight’ moms are giving ‘Breaking Dawn’ a test drive to see if the sexual content is appropriate for their ‘tweens and teenage girls.

An odd thing about the ‘Breaking Dawn’ gross is that none of the numbers reflect the Thursday afternoon showings. I know for a fact that theaters around Salt Lake City began showing the movie at 4PM on Thursday. Yet the total numbers match those of the weekend numbers, so the Thursday grosses are being clumped in as weekend totals.

Another sequel premiered this weekend, but this one barely brought in half the opening weekend cash that its original film made back in 2006. Landing in the #2 spot is ‘Happy Feet Two‘, which features the all-singing, all-dancing penguins in a fight against nature. Where the original ‘Happy Feet’ opened to $41.5 million, ‘Two’ debuted with only $22 million – and that’s including the added bonus that comes from increased 3D ticket costs (which account for 50% of its income). With three family films opening this Wednesday (‘Hugo’, ‘The Muppets’ and ‘Arthur Christmas’), ‘Happy Feet Two’ sure doesn’t have much room to grow.

The most impressive opening comes from Alexander Payne’s little dramatic comedy ‘The Descendants‘. Starring George Clooney, ‘The Descendants’ landed the #10 spot despite showing at only 29 locations. That’s right, on only 29 screens, the film brought in more than $1.2 million. That’s an average of $41,379 per screen. With this amount of success, highly positive reviews and increasing Oscar buzz, Fox Searchlight will expand the movie’s release over the next few weeks.

Each of the three movies that opened last week took crushing blows. ‘Immortals‘ dropped 62%, ‘Jack and Jill‘ dropped 52% and ‘J. Edgar‘ fell 47.4%, sliding down to seventh place with only $5.9 million. When ‘A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas‘ looks like it’s going to gross more than a Clint Eastwood film, you know that Clint did something wrong.

Top 10

1. ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1’ (Summit) – $139,500,000

2. ‘Happy Feet Two’ (Warner Bros.) – $22,025,000

3. ‘Immortals’ (Relativity) – $12,252,000

4. ‘Jack and Jill’ (Sony) – $12,000,000

5. ‘Puss in Boots’ (Paramount/DreamWorks) – $10,725,000

6. ‘Tower Heist’ (Universal) – $7,000,000

7. ‘J. Edgar’ (Warner Bros.) – $5,900,000

8. ‘A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas’ (Warner Bros./New Line) – $2,900,000

9. ‘In Time’ (Fox) – $1,675,000

10. ‘The Descendants’ (Fox Searchlight) – $1,222,000


  1. JM

    Of the 32 films Clint Eastwood directed, how many are considered great?

    90% of his films make insignificant box office. It’s subsidized art. Is he churning out high art? Or is he just sponging off his celebrity?

    Mel Gibson is beloved as a director. What has Clint Eastwood given us?


    Is that it?

    • Alex

      Mel Gibson has Braveheart (probably a classic, but I’m not really a fan), Apocalypto, and Passion. Anything else of note?

      Clint Eastwood has Unforgiven, Invictus, Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Flags of Our Fathers/Letters From Iwo Jima, and a whole bunch of others that are reasonable popular, even if they aren’t particularly artistic: Space Cowboys, Bridges of Madison County, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Absolute Power (one of my Dad’s favorites, that one).

      I would say that Eastwood’s impact as a director, in addition to his mythic status as an actor, qualifies him as a true Hollywood legend (certainly more than Mel “I wonder if people would even show up to Lethal Weapon 5” Gibson).

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