Updated 8:30 a.m. PT Saturday
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1" is opening to huge numbers, pulling in an estimated $71.4 on Friday.
That puts the latest installment of Summit's vampire romance franchise on track to gross $140 million this weekend.
Box-office watchers had predicted the movie would open to about $140 million. Summit, meanwhile, had more conservative estimates of about $125 million.
Early estimates show the Warner Bros. "Happy Feet Two," meanwhile, opening to far more modest numbers. Rival-studio estimates have the animated 3D movie taking in only about $6 million on Friday. That movie looks to be heading to about $21 million for the weekend — soft, but enough to make it No. 2 at the box office.
And Relativity's "Immortals," which was the No. 1 movie at last week's box office, took an estimated $3.8 million on Friday. It is expected to gross $12.7 this weekend.
Sensing that end is nigh for their favorite vampire romance franchise, members of Team Edward and Team Jacob will flock to the movie theaters this weekend to see “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.”
But will tween ticket-buyers turn out in enough force to propel the Summit sequel to record numbers?
It's unlikely, but even if the sequel falls short of those lofty marks, it still stands to sink its teeth into an awful lot of green. The first installment in the two-part finale is on pace to bank $140 million this weekend in 4,061 theaters.
Also opening wide this weekend: Warner Bros.' animated sequel "Happy Feet Two"; Fox Searchlight Oscar hopeful "The Descendants," meanwhile, will expand to 27 theaters Friday from the five it opened up with Wednesday.
"Breaking Dawn's" projections fall short of the $169 million all-time record set by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” last summer, but should be roughly in line with the franchise's highest grossing opener, the $140 million posted by 2009's "New Moon."
The studio is feeling more conservative, projecting an opening weekend on the order of $125 million.
Summit did not release the number of theaters that plan to host midnight screenings, but studio executives told TheWrap that the movie may be a 12 a.m. record breaker.
It could easily surpass the $43.5 million benchmark set by “Deathly Hallows Part 2” in late night showings.
If Twi-hards are particularly eager to catch the latest entry in the vampire romance saga — a gorier and sexier affair that includes a trip to the altar, a deflowering and a grisly demon child birth — it may shatter the single day record of $92 million set by the bespectacled wizard.
“Those midnight showings are where they always excel, so they’re almost certain to get the single day gross record,” a rival studio executive told TheWrap. “The question is can they sustain it? Do they get all those girls out and then fall off a cliff.”
Making those heady numbers all the loftier, Summit produced the tentpole film at a relatively modest budget.
After tax rebates, “Breaking Dawn – Part 1” cost the studio $110 million, much of it in cast salaries.
As TheWrap reported exclusively last spring, a prospectus given to potential investors revealed that "Breaking Dawn – Part 1” cost $127.5 million. According to those documents, Summit had only has $38.4 million at risk thanks to foreign pre-sales.
The bad news is that “Breaking Dawn – Part 1” will likely suck the blood out of the rest of the box office.
Box office watchers predict that “Happy Feet Two” will fall short of the $41.5 million opening enjoyed by the first film.
The dancing penguins sequel is predicted to rack up $30 million over the weekend in 3,606 locations, 2,800 of which are 3D compatible. The Warner Brothers film cost $140 million to produce.
Also feeling the “Twilight” burn will be last weekend’s box office champion, “The Immortals.” Relativity’s sword and sandals epic should see its numbers fall over 50 percent to $17 million, if predictions prove right.
In addition to Arctic creatures and vampires, a decidedly human drama will enter the marketplace. Fox Searchlight’s “The Descendants” opened Wednesday in five New York and Los Angeles theaters. It will expand to 11 markets, including Boston, San Francisco and Dallas, over the weekend, bringing its theater count to 27.
The critically adored film should rack up around $30,000. Starring George Clooney, the comedy-drama centers on a man trying to reconnect with his daughters while his wife lies in a coma. It marks writer and director Alexander Payne’s first film behind the camera since 2004’s “Sideways.”
“It’s a good story that people can really identify with and the performances are outstanding,” Sheila DeLoach, Fox Searchlight’s executive VP of distribution, told TheWrap. “We’’re really thrilled to see the reviews come in. That is a big plus to the film and helps its box office.”