‘Breaking Dawn’ Revives Moribund Box Office With $139.5M Haul

Breaking Dawn Big Picture   .jpg

Summit’s vampire franchise performs as big as expected, while Warners’ “Happy Feet Two” stumbles to $22.3M

The box office is lifeless no more: "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1" opened to $139.5 million domestically this weekend, according to studio data.

The fourth of Summit's vampire-and-werewolf movies had the franchise's second best three-day opening ever, behind 2009's "New Moon" ($142.8 million in November 2009).

For a box office that's down about 3.5 percent from last year, "Breaking Dawn" is only the second movie this year, including the summer's final "Harry Potter" film, to open to more than $100 million. (There were four $100 million openers last year.)

And it had the third-best opening Friday ever, grossing $71.4 million — behind only this year's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" and "New Moon."

"Breaking Dawn's" international numbers were as strong as its domestic ones. The movie grossed $144 million in 54 territories, giving it a worldwide box office total of $283.5 million in just three days. The movie cost about $110 million to make, after tax rebates.

While "Breaking Dawn" almost exactly matched its pre-release predictions, the animated penguins of Warner Bros.' "Happy Feet Two" grossed only $22 million, according to studio estimates — enough to rank the movie No. 2 this weekend, but still a disappointing performance. The movie was projected to open to about $30 million.

Relativity Media's "Immortals," meanwhile, grossed $12.2 million in its second weekend of release — a 62 percent drop. It is No. 3 at the box office.

Read also: Indie Box Office: 'The Descendants' Ascends to Big $1.3M Opening

The best per-screen numbers of the weekend belonged to Fox Searchlight's "The Descendants." The movie, which stars George Clooney, opened in 29 locations, but was still No. 10 at the box office with $1.3 million. That's a spectacular per-screen average of $44,800.

"Breaking Dawn," by comparison, opened at 4,061 locations and averaged $34,245.

Also read: 'Breaking Dawn' Premiere: Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner Steal the Show

Summit's president of domestic distribution, Richie Fay, told TheWrap Sunday that the fourth installment of any franchise can be a little worrisome.

"There's a definite interest in wanting to continue to see the series," he said. "The fact that our audience is aging up a little bit, the impulse to get out and see it on the first weekend isn't necessarily there the way it has been. To me, that means that the holdover should be much better."

"Breaking Dawn's audience was 80 percent female and 60 percent older than 21.

According to moviegoer survey firm CinemaScore, the movie graded out at a so-so "B-plus" among all age and gender groups.

On the strength of "Breaking Dawn," the box office was up 14 percent this weekend compared to the same weekend last year.

"In a period where it's been … a down cycle of growth, we've got the public interested in a movie again — and in going to movies as we approach Thanksgiving and obviously Christmas," Fay said.

Also read: 'Twilight' Money: How Summit Plans to Make $1.2B Off 'Breaking Dawn'

He said the movie's strongest performance was in Salt Lake City, followed by New York City.

The weekend's other major release — also a sequel — had a tougher time at the box office.

"Happy Feet Two," the follow-up to the 2006 Oscar-winning hit, underperformed.

"We obviously came in a little bit under our expectations on 'Happy Feet,' but the marketplace is very competitive out there, especially with 'Twilight' getting close to 80 percent of the female audience," Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. president of distribution, told TheWrap Sunday. 

The PG-rated animated movie about dancing penguins received a B-plus CinemaScore. And it has some tough competition coming up, with "Hugo," "The Muppets" and "Arthur Christmas" all opening up for Thanksgiving week.

Also read: Chris Weitz: 'A Better Life' Gardener Not So Different From My 'Twilight' Vampires

"The market expands enormously over the holiday," Fellman said. "By next Monday, we'll know whether we're in good shape."

The first "Happy Feet" opened to $41.5 million and ultimately grossed $198 million domestically and $384.3 million worldwide. Its budget was estimated at $100 million. The second cost an estimated $140 million to make.

"After 'Twilight' gets in a couple of hundred million dollars worth of business in the first week, you'll see some of the female audience move over to 'Happy Feet,'" Fellman predicted.

Internationally, Steven Spielberg's motion-capture extravaganza "The Adventures of Tintin" continued to perform well, grossing $21.7 million on 13,040 screens in 53 markets.

Sony and Paramount are both distributing the movie.

In Sony's territories, the movie grossed $11.3 this weekend. The total gross in those territories is $187.6 million.

In Paramount's territories, "Tintin" took in $10.4 million this weekend. Those territories have grossed $35 million so far.

"Tintin" opened big in China this weekend, taking $7.4 million on 7,030 screens. The movie was off 63 percent in France, grossing $2.3 million and pushing its total past $50 million. The U.K. was down 35 percent and Spain was down 43 percent.

"The Adventures of Tintin" opens in the United States on Dec. 21.

Here's how the top 10 rounded out:

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1" ($139.5m)
"Happy Feet Two" ($22.0m)
"Immortals" ($12.2m)
"Jack and Jill" ($12.0m)
"Puss In Boots" ($10.7m)
"Tower Heist" ($6.9m)
"J. Edgar" ($5.9m)
"A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas" ($2.9m)
"In Time" ($1.6m)
"The Descendants" ($1.3m)