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Final Twilight dawns brightly

By LOS ANGELES TIMES

This article was published November 23, 2012 at 3:05 a.m.

taylor-lautner-left-and-kristen-stewart-star-in-the-twilight-saga-breaking-dawn-part-2-the-film-came-in-no-1-at-last-weekends-box-office-and-made-more-than-141-million

Taylor Lautner (left) and Kristen Stewart star in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2. The film came in No. 1 at last weekend’s box office, and made more than $141 million.

— In the end, Breaking Dawn couldn’t generate as much light as New Moon.

The fifth and final Twilight film hit theaters last weekend and did incredible business, grossing about $141 million domestically, according to an estimate Sunday from distributor Summit Entertainment. Although that is a fantastic start for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, the film came in just shy of the franchise opening-weekend record held by 2009’s New Moon with $142.8 million.

Still, the final Twilight film could easily become the highest-grossing domestic film in the Twilight franchise, surpassing the record $300.5 million the third film, Eclipse, made in 2010. Those Twihards who saw the new movie over the weekend loved it, assigning it an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore. With word of mouth strong, it seems likely that many of the series’ young fans will see the movie again in coming weeks.

Like all of its predecessors, Breaking Dawn - Part 2 attracted a heavily female audience: 79 percent of the crowd were women, and half were younger than 25.

Fans began rushing out to see the finale late on Nov. 15, when the movie debuted in roughly 2,000 theaters nationwide and proceeded to collect $30.4 million by the morning of Nov. 16. Summit, which spent $120 million on the film’s production budget, opened the movie slightly before midnight to try to get a few hours of extra business from moviegoers. However, the move didn’t generate too many extra ticket sales; 2010’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse grossed $30 million from midnight screenings alone.

Another film that did well over the weekend was Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which expanded from 11 theaters to 1,775 and grossed $21 million.

Though the movie had earned a strong per-theater average in limited release a week earlier, last weekend was the true test of whether the period drama starring Daniel Day-Lewis could attract a broader audience. The well-reviewed picture still attracted an older audience - 67 percent were over the age of 35 - but its weekend gross bodes well for its commercial prospects in the coming weeks.

The film about the 16th president is being distributed by Walt Disney Studios but was financed by DreamWorks Studios, 20th Century Fox, Participant Media and Dune Entertainment for $65 million. The movie received an A CinemaScore from opening weekend moviegoers.

Meanwhile, Skyfall became the most successful movie in the James Bond franchise - not adjusting for inflation. Last weekend the film, starring Daniel Craig, reached a phenomenal worldwide total of $669.2 million, easily surpassing the $599.2 million global tally held by 2006’s Casino Royale.

After debuting in the top position at the domestic box office last weekend, Skyfall saw its ticket sales fall 53 percent to $41 million over the weekend, raising its 10-day total to $161 million.

The success of the film has helped propel Columbia Pictures - which financed and is distributing the film with MGM - to its biggest year ever at the worldwide box office. The studio has so far this year sold more than $4 billion worth of tickets globally.

MovieStyle, Pages 31 on 11/23/2012

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