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‘Breaking Dawn 2’ Taking Biggest Box Office Bite of All ‘Twilight’ Movies

Foreign is far out-stripping domestic for "Twilight" franchise finale "Breaking Dawn 2," which claims 3rd straight U.S. box office win with $17.4M and crosses the $700M mark worldwide

The vamps and vampires of “Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” have sunk their fangs into the domestic and global box office, and won’t let go. The franchise finale took in $17.4 million to claim its third consecutive weekend victory in North America, but it has been even more impressive overseas.

"Skyfall” finished a close second in its fourth week with $17 million, to raise the domestic haul for the 23rd James Bond movie to $246 million. It was followed by “Lincoln,” “Rise of the Guardians” and “Life of Pi.” The Brad Pitt crime drama “Killing Them Softly” tanked in its debut, bringing in a disappointing $7 million.

"Breaking Dawn 2" has now taken in $254.6 overall in the U.S., which is just behind the comparable three-week total of 2009's “New Moon” ($259 million), but ahead of “Eclipse” and “Breaking Dawn 1," both of which had $251 million after three weeks. However “Breaking Dawn 2” is taking a much bigger bite of the overseas box office. It added $48.9 million this weekend and has grossed $447 million abroad to become the franchise’s biggest foreign earner, passing the $430 million rung up last year by “Breaking Dawn 1.”

With a total of $702 million, "Breaking Dawn 2" will pass "New Moon" ($709 million) to become the franchise's biggest money earner ever at the worldwide box office.

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“This will be the biggest “Twilight” movie ever at the box office and the foreign grosses will be the driving force,"  BoxOffice.com editor-in-chief Phil Contrino told TheWrap. “These franchise films build and build overseas, and then they explode.” 

Lionsgate’s head of domestic distribution Richie Fay said he isn’t surprised by the foreign success.

“You could see it coming,” he told TheWrap. “The last one, ‘Breaking Dawn 1,’ did 60 percent of its business overseas and we were confident we could build on that.” "Breaking Dawn 2" opened internationally at the same time as it did in North America, and Fay said the overseas marketing strategy played up the international aspects of the film.

The only wide opener set for next weekend in the U.S. is FilmDistrict’s “Playing for Keeps,” so "Breaking Dawn 2" could stay on top until Dec. 14, when Warner Bros. rolls out its blockbuster “The Hobbit.”

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DreamWorks' Oscar contender  "Lincoln" was third this weekend, with $13.5 million from 2,018 locations. That's an average of $6,694 per theater, well off the $12,398 per-screen pace it set over the long Thanksgiving weekend, and raises its overall domestic gross to $83.7 million after four weeks.

DreamWorks Animation's 3D "Rise of the Guardians" failed to gain much traction in its second week, taking in about $13.5 million over the three days. Distributor Paramount had hoped for an improvement on its disappointing Thanksgiving weekend debut, which caused DWA's stock to drop 5 percent last week. “Guardians,” which was produced at a cost of $145 million, has now taken in about $49 million overall.

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Fox's "Life of Pi" took in $12 million in its second weekend. That's a $4,098 per-location average for Ang Lee's lyrical epic, which was on 2,929 screens, the bulk of them 3D.

Expectations were modest for “Killing Them Softly,” distributed by the Weinstein Company. Analysts had the film doing $12 million and thought it might do better, based on the appeal of Pitt, who plays a hitman. Pitt got a lot of the credit for the surprising success of last year’s baseball movie “Moneyball,” which opened to $19 million and went on to make $75 million. But audiences gave "Killing Them Softly" an “F” CinemaScore, and the Weinstein's date change — it had originally been set to open Oct. 19 — didn't help.

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The film, produced by Annapurna Productions for $15 million, has generally received good reviews –but  81 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes — after premiering in competition in Cannes earlier this year. Andrew Dominik (“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) directed and wrote the screenplay. The supporting cast includes Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins and James Gandolfini.

FilmDistrict's remake of "Red Dawn" brought in $6.5 million in its second week to raise its overall domestic total to $31 million.

The weekend's other wide opener, LD Films' R-rated horror sequel “The Collection,” took in $3.4 million to fall just short of the $3.6 million opening of 2009's “The Collector.”

Warner Bros.’ political thriller “Argo” raised its overall domestic gross to $101 million after adding $2 million in its eighth weekend of release. The film, considered an Oscar front runner, had a production budget of $45 million.

“Its success at the box office, combined with categorical raves from critics everywhere, is a testament to the talents behind the film, beginning with its remarkable director and star, Ben Affleck,” said Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman. “We congratulate him and everyone involved in ‘Argo’ on this milestone.”